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.
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.
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).