Barium Swallow

Barium Swallow

What should I know about Fluoroscopy?

Fluoroscopy is a type of x-ray imaging.  It allows physicians to view real-time (movie-like) images of your internal structures.   Because fluoroscopy involves the use of x-rays, ionizing radiation, all fluoroscopic procedures pose some health risks.  If you are pregnant, you should discuss these risks with your physician before having this procedure.

What should I know about Fluoroscopic X-ray Dye?

Fluoroscopy procedures require various types of x-ray dyes depending on the reason for the procedure and what information the physician wants to obtain from the procedure.  The most commonly used x-ray dye is barium sulfate, a white-chalky substance.  Other x-ray dyes used in our fluoroscopy department are water-soluble agents, omnipaque (iohexol) and hypaque (diatrizoic acid).  The technologist will ask you a series of questions before giving you the x-ray dye to reduce the chance of a contrast reaction.  Having a known allergy to x-ray dye will not necessarily prevent you from having the procedure but may require pre-medication so please inform the technologist.

What is a Fluoroscopic (Barium) Swallow?

A fluoroscopic swallow is a procedure done by one of our radiology physicians and technologists in the x-ray department to evaluate your esophagus.  You will be asked to drink x-ray dye while x-ray images are being taken of your throat and chest.  You will be asked to move into different positions to take these x-ray images.  You may be asked to swallow different forms of x-ray dye.  Some are thin like water, some thick like a milkshake, others carbonated like a soda, and solid like a pill.  You can expect this procedure to take approximately 30 minutes.

Parents, if your infant is having this procedure your child will be placed in a positioning device called the "cradle".  This will help the physician obtain the best possible images and keep your child safe during the procedure.

What should I do before the procedure?

This procedure requires a diet restriction.  Do not eat, drink, chew or smoke anything after midnight the night before your scheduled procedure.  If this diet restriction is not followed the procedure may have to be rescheduled.

Additionally, we ask that you arrive 15-20 minutes before your scheduled procedure time to check-in and be registered.  You should come to Radiology Reception on the first floor of the main hospital located at 1215 Lee Street.  You can park in the parking deck directly across from the Main Lobby Entrance and we will validate your ticket or you can take advantage of our valet parking services.

What should I do after the procedure?

You can return to your normal activity after this procedure unless instructed otherwise by our Radiologist.  It is a good idea to increase your fluid intake by drinking water after any barium procedure.


For any questions or concerns:

Contact the Radiology and Medical Imaging department at 434-924-9400