A barium swallow is diagnostic radiology exam using an X-ray to examine the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, specifically the esophagus, throat and back of the mouth. A barium swallow can help diagnose structural or functional issues of the upper GI tract.
Barium is a dry powder that is mixed with water to create a drinkable contrast material, creating better visualization of inside the body. A barium swallow may be performed as part of an upper gastrointestinal series, which evaluates the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
Barium Swallow: What You Need to Know
- A barium swallow can help diagnose diseases and conditions such as GERD, ulcers, dysphagia, hiatal hernia, achalasia, tumors or cancers.
- As you swallow the barium contrast, a series of X-rays or an X-ray video (fluoroscopy) will show the barium moving through your upper GI tract.
- The night before the exam, do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
- Barium may cause constipation after the exam. You may be advised to drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in fiber to help move the barium through your GI system.
Why Choose Johns Hopkins Radiology for barium swallow exams?
Our diagnostic radiologists have subspecialty training in interpreting images from barium swallow exams and other radiologic GI exams. Our state-of-the-art equipment and technology is combined with providing the highest level of patient care.
Find a Johns Hopkins radiologist who specializes in barium swallow exams.