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Barium swallow of your esophagus

What is a barium swallow?

A barium swallow is an imaging study of the throat and the “food pipe” that leads to the stomach. We will take a close look at the back of your throat and mouth (known as the pharynx) and the tube that lead to the stomach (known as the esophagus).

Why does my child need a barium swallow test?

Imaging from esophagram studies can reveal abnormalities related to:

  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Reflux
  • Hiatal hernias
  • Inflammation of the esophagus

Your child will be having this study to establish the presence or absence, nature or extent of disease affecting esophagus.

How can I prepare for the test?

  • Your child should not have food or drink except clear liquids 2-4 hours prior to exam.
  • Bring a picture ID and insurance information.
  • Bring current list of medications (including over the counter, herbal, vitamins, supplements, etc.) and current allergies.
  • Please arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time.

What should I expect to happen during this exam?

This study will take about 30 minutes to an 1 hour.

Your child will change in to a hospital gown and a chest x-ray will be obtained.

This test can be done standing, or laying down on a fluoroscopy table moving in different positions while drinking a contrast agent. The radiologist will take images using fluoroscopy x-ray equipment while you are drinking the barium. Barium is a thick, milkshake like liquid that comes in various flavors.

After-care information

Your child may resume normal activity, eating and drinking after exam unless otherwise specified by your physician.

Please note that the barium contrast can turn their stool a gray or white color for 48 – 72 hours. It may also cause constipation. Unless fluids are restricted by the doctor, they should also drink fluids (more than normal) to help the contrast move out of their system.

What follow-up care is is needed after the procedure?

  • Results will be available 1-2 business days on the patient portal and to your ordering physician. For results: please contact the physician that ordered your test.

Contact information if you have questions or concerns

If you have any questions, please contact us at (804) 628-4998 and ask for a radiology technologist. If you need to call after hours, please call (804) 828-3699. Our hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Meet the team

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Kathryn S. Jones, MD
Kathryn Jones MD Radiology Read more
Laura Lee, MRS
Laura Lee MRS Radiology Read more
Eman Mahdi, MD
Eman Mahdi MD Radiology Read more
Chakradhar Mishra, MD
Chakradhar Mishra MD Radiology Read more
Gregory Vorona, MD
Gregory Vorona MD Radiology Read more


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