PREPARATION REQUIRED: None.
DESCRIPTION: An x-ray and fluoroscopic examination of the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the mouth with the stomach.
PROCEDURE EXPLAINED: The patient will be asked to remove all clothing from the waist up and put on a gown. In order to visualize the esophagus and swallowing mechanism it is necessary for the patient to swallow a substance containing barium. This is a flavored drink that very few persons find difficult to swallow. The x-ray table will be placed in an upright position and the patient will be asked to stand on a small platform attached to the table. The Radiologist and a Technologist will be in the room during the procedure. The patient will be asked to swallow barium while the Radiologist watches on a monitor as the barium travels down the esophagus and into the stomach. Several films of various sections of the esophagus may be taken during this fluoroscopic portion of the procedure. The table will then be returned to its normal horizontal position (the patient “rides” back with it) and barium is then ingested through a straw to see how the swallowing mechanism performs without the aid of gravity. Again, some films may be taken during this portion of the exam. After the Radiologist has taken finished with his/her portion of the exam, the Technologist must take at least two films of the patient while he/she is drinking the barium solution through a straw. These films are important because they will be the only films of the esophagus entirely filled with barium from top to bottom. A final film without drinking (to check for gastric reflux into the esophagus) will be taken.
TOTAL TIME REQUIRED: Approximately 30 minutes.
FOLLOW-UP INFORMATION FOR THE PATIENT: You may expect to have a lighter than normal color stool for a couple of days. Barium enters and leaves the body “white”. Expect these changes until the barium completely exits your system. Every person is different and it is impossible to predict how long this may take. If you are prone to constipation, it is recommended that you take whatever product you prefer to avoid barium constipating you. If you are uncertain as to what product to use, contact your physician or pharmacist. Also, you should drink a lot of water following the procedure. This assists in flushing your system of the barium.
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