Barium x-rays

What is barium and why is it used?

The stomach area does not show up very well on a normal X-ray picture. When your child swallows the barium liquid (normally as a drink) the outline of the oesophagus, stomach and small intestine show up clearly when x-rayed.

These tests in their own right cannot be used for diagnosing Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease. The tests may be used to show structural abnormalities ie: Hiatus Hernia, swallowing problems etc.

There are several barium tests that maybe performed. Your child may have one or more of these tests. With each test several x-rays pictures will be taken using a low dosage of radiation. This is thought to be safe as the radiation for each test is very small.

The x-ray machine is usually linked to a TV monitor. Still pictures, or a video recording of x-ray pictures can be taken in quick succession if necessary.

Barium swallow

For this test your child will be asked to swallow the barium liquid, which is usually flavored, whilst an x-ray machine monitors the progress of the liquid into the stomach.

Barium Swallow

The test aims to look for problems in the oesophagus such as a stricture (narrowing), hiatus hernia, tumor’s, disorders of swallowing, etc.

It is usual to be asked not to eat and drink for a few hours prior to the test, please discuss this further with your child’s doctor.

Barium follow through

A similar test to above, the difference is that the barium liquid is monitored all the way through your child’s system.

Once started your child will likely have an X-ray every 30 minutes or so until the barium has reached the large intestine (colon).