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Barium Swallow

Planning ahead:

  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke anything at all for at least six hours before the exam. You may take any regular medications with a sip of water.
  • Wear comfortable clothes with no underwire bras, no necklaces, and no metallic buttons. If you wear metal, you will have to change into a hospital gown.
  • Arrive at the hospital 30 minutes before your X-ray is scheduled. Ask the scheduler what time that is.

Bring with you to the hospital:

  • Complete list of medications you are currently taking – name and dosage of each medication, and when you take it. 
  • Written physician’s order for the exam.

On the day of your test:

  • Come in through the main entrance of Mon Health Medical Center and go to the Radiology Services registration desk, down the hallway to the right.
  • Plan to be at the hospital for approximately one hour.

What to expect:

  • Your X-ray technologist will ask you questions about your medical history and then take a "scout" image before you drink the solution.
  • You will then be asked to drink some crystals mixed with water to form gas in your stomach, and you will be told not to belch.
  • While standing on a table in the upright position, you will then be asked to drink barium while the X-rays are taken.
  • You may hear the technologist and radiologist talking throughout the procedure; this is to communicate which positions the technologist needs to place the patient in for proper imaging.
  • Once upright imaging has been completed, the radiologist or technologist will put you into a horizontal position and roll you in various directions to coat the stomach with the barium. Several more x-rays will be taken.
  • You may be asked to hold your breath during the procedure, and you may need to drink a little more barium.

After your exam:

You may become constipated from the barium. Drink plenty of fluids to try to avoid this. If constipation persists, even after increasing fluids, contact your doctor who ordered the test.

For more information, call the Mon Health Radiology Services Department at (304) 598-1280.

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