BARIUM X-RAY PROCEDURES
Barium X-ray examinations are used to reveal abnormalities
or disorders within the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract.
Barium swallows are used to investigate the oesophagus, and
barium meals are used for the examination of areas such as
the stomach and duodenum. The large intestine is examined
by means ofa barium enema.
Barium swallows and meals
are used to investigate the
upper gastrointestinal tract.
No food or drink is permitted
for six to nine hours before-
hand. At the examination,
the patient swallows a glass
of barium mixed with a
flavoured liquid, or is given
a piece of bread or a biscuit
soaked in barium if a disorder
ofthe swallowing mechanism
is being investigated.
Taking the X-ray
The radiographer takesX-ray
pictureswhile the patient
swallows. For a barium swallow,
the patient stands; for a barium
meal, the patient lies on the
table in different positions; for
a barium follow-through, the
patient lies on the right side and
X-rays are taken at intervals until
the barium has progressed
through the small intestine.
Barium swallow result
revealed a narrowed
area, known as an
oesophageal stricture, in
the lower section ofthe
In this X-ray,
a thin film of
of air into the
presence of a
A barium enema is carried out for examination ofthe large
intestine and rectum. In order for an examination to be
successful, the large intestine needs to be as empty and
clean as possible because faeces can obscure or simulate
a polyp or tumour. For this reason, the patient’s intake of
food and fluids is sometimes restricted for a few days
before the examination, and laxatives are given to make
sure that the bowel is empty prior to the procedure.
The radiographer or radiologist introduces
the barium into the patient’s intestine via a
tube inserted into the rectum. The patient
lies on his or her left side while the barium is
infused. He or she then turns on to the other
side, front, and back, and X-rays are taken.
In single-contrast barium enemas, the
section of intestine to be examined is
filled with liquid barium. Because
barium is opaque to X-rays, it provides
an outline image that shows up prominent
abnormalities such as narrowing.
In double-contrast, barium and air are
introduced into the tract. The barium
forms a film on the tract’s inner surface
only, providing an image of small
surface abnormalities that would not
be visible using single-contrast.