Barium Swallow (BAS)

What is a Barium Swallow and what does it do?

A barium esophagram, or barium swallow, may be ordered for patients with difficult or painful swallowing, coughing, choking, a sensation of something stuck in the throat, or chest pain. The test is performed when a patient drinks the barium and X-ray images are taken. These problems can be detected with a barium swallow:

  • Narrowing or irritation of the esophagus (the muscular tube between the back of the throat and the stomach)
  • Disorders of swallowing
  • Hiatal hernia (an internal defect that causes the stomach to slide partially into the chest)
  • Abnormally enlarged veins in the esophagus that cause bleeding
  • Ulcers
  • Tumors
  • Polyps (growths that are usually not cancerous, but could be precancerous)

Who performs the test?

The examination is performed by a doctor specially trained in Radiology (Radiologist) and a licensed Radiologic Technologist RT (R).

Where does it take place?

At Jackson Hospital in the Radiology Department.

How long does it take?

The average person takes 15–30 minutes.

What can I do to make it a success?

  • Wear comfortable, easy to remove clothing.
  • Patients will be required to put a gown on for all Fluoroscopy x-ray exams.
  • Follow all preparation instructions given to you by your physician’s office. If you have any questions, please call us for clarification. We want your exam to be as successful as possible.

What should I do before the exam?

  • Take nothing by mouth 8 hours prior to your exam. You may take make your medications with minimal amount water.
  • If you are a woman of childbearing age and there is a chance you may be pregnant, please consult your physician before scheduling this exam.

What happens during the exam?

  • You will be asked to dress in a patient gown.
  • You will be given a small cup of carbonated water and a cup of liquid barium to drink while the radiologist observes under fluoroscopy and takes images of your esophagus.
  • You will be positioned for your exam based on the area of the body to be x-rayed. This could be standing, sitting or lying down in various positions on the exam table.
  • Most exams require multiple views or positions of the body part for adequate evaluation.

What should I do after the exam?

  • You will be given discharge instructions requesting that a mild laxative be taken after the study.
  • After the examination, your stool will be lightly colored from the barium for 24 to 72 hours. It is important to remove the barium from the large intestine. If the barium is not removed, it may harden and block the intestine. Drink 6 to 8 glasses (soda pop can size) of liquid after the test to help get rid of the barium. This will also help to keep you from being constipated or dehydrated.

Contact Information:

Hospital (main operator): (850) 526-2200
Radiology Department: (850) 718-2580

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