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Barium meal side effects: Barium Swallow | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Barium Swallow | Johns Hopkins Medicine

What is a barium swallow test?

A barium swallow test (cine esophagram, swallowing study, esophagography, modified barium swallow study, video fluoroscopy swallow study) is a special type of imaging test that uses barium and X-rays to create images of your upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Your upper GI tract includes the back of your mouth and throat (pharynx) and your esophagus.

Barium is used during a swallowing test to make certain areas of the body show up more clearly on an X-ray. The radiologist will be able to see size and shape of the pharynx and esophagus. He or she will also be able see how you swallow. These details might not be seen on a standard X-ray. Barium is used only for imaging tests for the GI tract.

A barium swallow test may be used by itself or as part of an upper GI series. This series looks at your esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).

Fluoroscopy is often used during a barium swallow test. Fluoroscopy is a kind of X-ray “movie.”

Why is a swallow test done?

A barium swallow test may be done to look for and diagnose problems in
the pharynx and esophagus. You may need a barium swallow test if your
healthcare provider thinks that you have:

  • Cancer of the

    head and neck, pharynx, or


  • Hiatal hernia. This means that your stomach has moved up into or alongside
    the esophagus.

  • Structural problems, such as pouches (diverticula), narrowing
    (strictures), or growths (polyps)

  • Enlarged veins (esophageal varices)

  • Muscle disorders, such as difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or spasms

  • Achalasia

    . This is a condition in which the lower esophageal sphincter
    muscle doesn’t relax and allow food to pass into the stomach.

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

    and ulcers

Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend a barium
swallow test.

What are the risks of a barium swallow test?

The risks of a barium swallow test may include problems from radiation
exposure, birth defects and intestinal issues. You should ask your
healthcare provider about the risks as they apply to you.

How can I manage my X-ray exposure?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider about the amount of radiation
used during the swallowing test. Consider writing down all X-rays you get,
including past scans and X-rays for other health reasons. Show this list to
your provider. The risks of radiation exposure may be tied to the number of
X-rays you have and the X-ray treatments you have over time.

How will a barium swallow test affect my stool?

You may have constipation or impacted stool after the swallowing test if
all of the barium does not pass out of your body.

Is it safe to have a barium swallow test while pregnant?

You should also not have a barium swallow test if you are pregnant.
Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects. Tell your
provider if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.

When should I avoid a barium swallow test?

You should avoid a barium swallow test if you have any of the following:

  • A tear or hole in your esophagus or intestines (perforation)

  • Blockage in your intestines or severe constipation

  • Severe problems with swallowing. This makes it more likely that
    barium would accidentally go into your lungs (aspiration).

You may have other risks depending on your specific health condition. Tell
your provider if you are allergic to or sensitive to medicines, contrast
dyes, local anesthesia, iodine, or latex. Be sure to talk with your
provider about any concerns you have before the procedure.

How do I prepare for a barium swallow test?

You can prepare for a barium swallow test by considering the following:

  • Your healthcare provider will explain the barium swallow test to
    you. Ask him or her any questions you have about the swallowing

  • You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives permission to do
    the swallowing test. Read the form carefully and ask questions if
    anything is not clear.

  • You will need to stop eating and drinking for about 8 hours before
    the swallowing test. Generally, this means after midnight.

  • Tell your provider if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
    before scheduling a barium swallow test.

  • Tell your provider if you are sensitive to or are allergic to any
    medicines, latex, tape, or anesthetic medicines (local and general)
    before scheduling a swallowing test.

  • Tell your provider about all medicines you are taking. This
    includes prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal
    supplements. You may need to stop taking these before the
    swallowing test.

  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have had a recent barium
    swallow or upper GI test. This may make it harder to get good
    X-rays of the lower GI area during a barium swallow test.

  • Follow any other instructions your provider gives you to get ready
    for the swallowing test.

What does a barium swallow test involve?

Generally, a barium swallow test involves the following process:

  • You’ll be asked to remove any clothing, jewelry, or other objects
    that may get in the way of the swallowing test.

  • You may be asked to remove clothing. If so, you will be given a
    gown to wear.

  • You will lie on an X-ray table that can move you from a horizontal
    to an upright position. You may also be asked to change positions
    during the swallowing test. For example, you may need to lie on
    your side, back, or stomach.

  • The radiologist may take X-rays of your chest and belly (abdomen)

  • The radiologist will ask you to take a swallow of a thick, chalky
    barium drink. The barium is usually flavored, but it may not taste
    very good.

  • As you swallow the barium, the radiologist will take single
    pictures, a series of X-rays, or fluoroscopy to watch the barium
    moving through your mouth and throat.

  • You may be asked to hold your breath at certain times during the

  • You will be given a thinner barium drink to swallow. The
    radiologist will use X-rays or fluoroscopy to watch the barium go
    down your esophagus. You may also be asked to swallow a barium
    tablet. This is a small pill that can help to show certain problems
    in the esophagus.

  • Once the radiologist has taken all of the X-rays, you’ll be helped
    from the table.

A barium swallow test may be performed as an outpatient procedure or as
part of your stay in a hospital. The way the test is done may vary
depending on your condition and your healthcare provider’s practices.

What happens after a barium swallow test?

You may go back to your normal diet and activities after a barium swallow
test, unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise.

How do I manage constipation after a swallowing test?

Barium may cause constipation or impacted stool after the swallowing test
if it isn’t completely cleared from your body. You can manage constipation
by drinking plenty of fluids and eating foods high in fiber to help the
rest of the barium leave your body. You may also be given a laxative to
help with this.

Your bowel movements may be white or lighter in color until all the barium
has left your body.

What are some serious side effects after a barium swallow test?

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these happen after your
barium swallow test:

  • Trouble with bowel movements or you are unable to have a bowel
    movement or pass gas

  • Pain or swelling of the abdomen

  • Stools that are smaller in size than normal

  • Fever

Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions, depending on your

Swallowing Center

The Johns Hopkins Swallowing Center offers specialized swallowing evaluation, diagnosis and treatment for patients with swallowing disorders. Our multi-specialty team includes laryngologists, speech-language pathologists and other specialists, who work together to provide you with personalized and compassionate care. 

Learn more about the Swallowing Center

What to Expect, Side Effects, and Cost

Barium Swallow: What to Expect, Side Effects, and Cost

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Medically reviewed by Graham Rogers, M. D. — By Erica Cirino — Updated on April 22, 2017

What is a barium swallow?

A barium swallow is a special type of X-ray test that helps your doctor take a close look at the back of your mouth and throat, known as the pharynx, and the tube that extends from the back of the tongue down to the stomach, known as the esophagus.

Your doctor may ask you to do a barium swallow to help diagnose any conditions that make it difficult for you to swallow or if they suspect that you have a disorder of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Your upper GI tract includes:

  • the esophagus
  • the stomach
  • the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum

To do a barium swallow, you swallow a chalky white substance known as barium. It’s often mixed with water to make a thick drink that looks like a milkshake. When it’s swallowed, this liquid coats the inside of your upper GI.

Barium absorbs X-rays and looks white on X-ray film. This helps highlight these organs, as well as their inside linings and the motion of your swallowing, on the X-ray image. These images help your doctor diagnose any disorders of the GI tract.

Your doctor may order a barium swallow to help diagnose a possible structural or functional problem with your upper GI tract. Some common problems that a barium swallow may help diagnose include:

  • hiatal hernia
  • inflammation
  • blockages
  • muscle disorders that could lead to difficulty swallowing or spasms
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • ulcers
  • both cancerous and noncancerous tumors

Sometimes a barium swallow is done as part of a series of X-rays that look at the whole upper GI tract. A continuous X-ray beam, called a fluoroscopy, is often used during a barium swallow to capture movement through your GI tract.

A common test that accompanies the barium swallow is the upper GI endoscopy, also known as an esophagogastroduodenoscopy, or EGD. Barium swallows are also often done as part of an upper GI and small bowel series of tests.

It’s important to follow the dietary guidelines your doctor gives you before your procedure. You are not supposed to eat or drink anything for six hours before your procedure. You may take small sips of water up until two hours before your procedure.

If you are getting additional tests done or have any existing medical conditions, the directions your doctor gives you may be slightly different. You should notify your doctor before your procedure if you have or have had any of the following conditions:

  • an esophageal or bowel perforation
  • bowel obstruction
  • difficulty swallowing
  • severe constipation

These conditions may disqualify you from doing a barium swallow, as they increase the risk of complications.

Your doctor will direct you to your local radiology facility for your barium swallow. A trained radiology technician will perform the procedure. From start to finish, a barium swallow takes about 30 minutes. You will get your results within several days of your procedure.

Once you’re at the radiology facility, you will be asked to remove your clothing and jewelry and secure your belongings in a locker. You’ll change into a medical gown provided by your doctor.

Your technician will position you on an X-ray table. They may ask you to move your body position as they take standard X-rays of your heart, lungs, and abdomen.

Then, your technician will give you a barium drink to swallow. They will take single X-rays, a series of X-rays, or a fluoroscopy to watch how the barium moves through your pharynx. You might have to hold your breath at certain times to prevent any movement from disrupting the X-ray images.

Next, the technician will give you a thinner barium drink to swallow. They will again take X-rays or a fluoroscopy to watch how the barium moves down the esophagus.

When all X-rays are complete, you can gather your things and leave. You can go back to your normal diet and daily activities after your barium swallow procedure unless your doctor advises otherwise.

Your doctor’s office will be in touch within a few days to go over the results of your test and to schedule any follow-ups that may be needed.

Here is an example of a normal barium swallow study, in which the barium (the dark liquid) is seen moving down the esophagus without any leakage or regurgitation (reflux):

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Photo: Anka Friedrich / commons.wikimedia.org

The barium you swallow is artificially flavored and sweetened. However, many people report that it tastes bitter or chalky.

If you have health insurance, a barium swallow may be fully or partially covered. If you don’t have insurance, the procedure may cost between $300 and $450. This covers the costs of your doctor’s time interpreting the X-rays as well as the cost of the technicians who perform the procedure.

If the barium is not completely expelled from your body after the procedure, it can sometimes cause constipation or fecal impaction. You should drink lots of fluids and eat high-fiber foods to help move the barium through your digestive tract and out of your body. If that doesn’t help, your doctor might give you a laxative to help move it through.

After your procedure, you might notice that your bowel movements are lighter in color. This happens because your body doesn’t absorb the barium. Your stool will return to its normal color once all the barium has been expelled.

Be sure to contact your doctor right away if:

  • You have trouble having a bowel movement or can’t have a bowel movement.
  • You have pain or bloating in your abdomen.
  • You have stools that are smaller in diameter than usual.

Also, barium swallows involve exposure to radiation, like all X-ray procedures. The risks of complications related to radiation exposure accumulate over time and are linked to the number of X-ray exams and treatments a person receives in their life. It can be helpful to share a record of past radiation procedures with your doctor before your barium swallow.

Exposure to radiation during pregnancy can cause birth defects in unborn fetuses. Because of this, pregnant women should not undergo barium swallow procedures.

The barium swallow is a less invasive way to look at the upper GI tract than an endoscopy. Barium swallows are a useful diagnostic tool for checking for upper GI tract disorders that can be easily diagnosed with X-ray alone. More complex disorders require endoscopy.

Here’s how to stay comfortable before, during, and after a barium swallow:


  • Wear loose-fitting clothing that’s easy to remove and put back on.
  • Remove all jewelry at home before you go in for your procedure.
  • Be sure to eat and drink enough the night before your procedure before starting your fast at midnight. It may help to schedule your barium swallow for first thing in the morning so you don’t have to avoid food or drink for too long.
  • Be prepared for the barium to taste unpleasant.
  • Bring something to eat and drink after your procedure. Foods that are high in fiber — including fruits like apples, bananas, and raspberries — can help prevent constipation as well as get rid of the taste.
  • Make sure you drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day after your procedure.

Was this helpful?

Last medically reviewed on April 10, 2017

How we reviewed this article:

Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Barium swallow. (n.d.).Retrieved from
  • Barium swallow (upper gastrointestinal series or “upper GI series”). (2014, June)
  • Barium swallow study (esophagram). (2017, January)
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, October 8). Chart of high-fiber foods
  • Upper GI endoscopy. (n.d.)

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

Apr 22, 2017

Written By

Erica Cirino

Apr 10, 2017

Medically Reviewed By

Graham Rogers, MD

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Medically reviewed by Graham Rogers, M.D. — By Erica Cirino — Updated on April 22, 2017

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Barium hydroxide – LLC “Khimprodukt TD”

Barium hydroxide is a kind of barium base. Outwardly, it looks like a white powder. It is soluble in water and hygroscopic.


Appears as a white crystalline powder with the formula Ba(OH)2, used for example in the saponification of fats and the melting of silicates. Barium hydroxide forms a strong caustic base in aqueous solution.


Barium hydroxide is widely used in various fields.

Barium hydroxide, especially the monohydrate, is used in the production of organic barium compounds, such as oil additives and stabilizers for plastics. In addition, the substance is used for dehydration and acidification, especially for removing sulfuric acid from fats, oils, wax and glycerin.

The substance can be used as a raw material for obtaining various barium compounds. Its monohydrate can be used in the dehydration and removal of sulfate from many foods. In the laboratory, it can be used in analytical chemistry for organic acid titration analysis. In organic synthesis, it is a strong base used to hydrolyze esters and nitriles. It is also a useful organic synthesis catalyst. Other applications also include acting as an intermediate layer between zinc oxide and luminescent conjugated polymer for LEDs, extracting pure arabinoxylans from water-insoluble wheat flour cell wall material, removing sulfates and metals from water, and acting as a selective precipitating agent.

Health hazards

Inhalation of barium dust can irritate the nose and upper respiratory tract and cause a benign pneumococcus known as barite.

Barium ions are toxic to muscles, especially the heart, causing stimulation and then paralysis.

This is an extremely dangerous hemotoxin. Side effects can have similar effects on the heart and central nervous system (CNS) function.


Store barium hydroxide in a closed warehouse with good ventilation. Be sure to store in sealed packaging.

Buy barium hydroxide

You can buy barium hydroxide wholesale and retail in Ukraine from our warehouses in the cities of Kiev, Kharkov, Dnipro, Odessa and Lviv .

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Delivery of orders in Ukraine is carried out by delivery services and own transport.

Main characteristics




Mass fraction of the main substance, %



9 0002 BaCO3, %

Cl, %

Fe, %

0, 0008

Buy barium hydroxide

You can buy barium hydroxide wholesale and retail in Ukraine from our warehouses in the cities of Kyiv, Kharkov, Dnipro, Odessa and Lviv .

Contact our managers by phone:

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+38 (095) 671-90-70

+38 (063) 671- 90-70

+38 (044) 338-38-56

for detailed information regarding availability, price barium hydroxide and related components.

Our managers will advise you and help purchase barium hydroxide , as well as organize delivery to your city.

You can also get detailed information on our website tdchem.com.ua or ask a question by e-mail [email protected] .

Delivery of orders in Ukraine is carried out by delivery services and own transport.

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Barium Enema – Drink-Drink


  • Why a Barium Enema is Done
  • How to Prepare for a Barium Enema
  • How a Barium Enema Is Done
  • Barium enema results
  • Barium enema risks
  • Actions after a barium enema

What is a barium enema?

A barium enema is a type of x-ray that allows doctors to examine the lower intestine. It involves injecting a contrast solution containing the metal element barium into the rectum while a technician takes x-rays of the area. The barium solution will be delivered through an enema, a process in which a doctor injects liquid into the rectum through the anus.

Barium solution helps to improve the quality of x-rays by highlighting specific areas of tissue. The x-rays used in this procedure are known as fluoroscopy. This allows the radiologist to see your internal organs in motion by monitoring the flow of the barium solution through the intestinal tract.

The test does not require pain medication or sedation, but there may be moments of mild discomfort.

Why a barium enema is given

Your doctor may prescribe an irrigation enema if he suspects an abnormality in the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract. There are many conditions and symptoms that may prompt your doctor to examine your lower gastrointestinal tract, including:

  • abdominal pain
  • blood in stool
  • change in your bowel movements
  • Crohn’s disease
  • chronic diarrhea
  • colorectal cancer
  • diverticulitis
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • polyps
  • rectal bleeding
  • twisted loop bowel (volvulus)
  • ulcerative colitis

How to prepare for a barium enema

Your doctor will ask you to empty your bowels the night before the test. This may include the use of laxatives or an enema at home.

You should not eat anything after midnight the night before your procedure. On the day of the procedure, you can drink clear liquids such as water, tea, juice or broth. This is to ensure that there is no stool in the colon that can be seen on X-rays. Tell your doctor if you had problems with bowel movements before the test.

How a barium enema is done

A barium enema usually takes 30 to 60 minutes and is done in a hospital or specialized testing facility. You will change into a hospital gown and remove any jewelry or other metal from your body. Metal can interfere with the x-ray process.

You will be placed on the examination table. An x-ray will be taken to make sure your bowels are clear. This may also include a physical rectal examination.

The radiologist will then insert a small tube into your rectum and inject a mixture of barium and water. The radiologist can gently inject air into the colon after the barium injection to get even more detailed x-rays. This is called an air-contrast barium enema.

The technician will instruct you to remain still and hold your breath while the x-rays are taken. You will most likely be repositioned several times to photograph your colon from different angles. This may cause you some discomfort and cramps, but they are usually mild.

Tell your doctor if you have trouble keeping the solution in your colon.

After the procedure, most of the barium and water will be removed through the tube. The rest you will do in the bathroom.

Barium enema results

Results are usually classified as negative or positive. A negative result means that no abnormalities were found. A positive result means that anomalies have been detected. This usually means that further testing will be required.

Your doctor will discuss your results and next steps with you.

Barium Enema Risks

Any test involving radiation carries a small risk of cancer, including x-rays. However, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis outweighs the risks of the small amount of radiation you will be exposed to during the test. Remember that many things you do on a regular basis, such as flying in an airplane, expose you to much more radiation than x-rays.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. X-rays are not recommended for pregnant women because the radiation can harm your unborn baby.

If it is possible that you have a tear, also called a perforation, in your colon, your doctor may choose to use an iodine contrast solution. This solution causes fewer potential complications if it leaks out of the colon.

The most common risk of a barium enema is an allergic reaction to the barium solution. Tell your doctor about any allergies you have.

Other rare complications of a barium enema may include:

  • inflammation of the tissues around the colon
  • obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract
  • perforation of the colon
  • tear in the wall of the colon

Actions after a barium enema

usually. You can return to normal eating, but you should drink plenty of water and increase your fiber intake.