Barium Swallow Patient Education

Barium Swallow Presentation


Barium swallow is a medical procedure used to examine the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. It involves drinking a liquid called barium, which is visible on X-rays. Barium swallow is a common test, but many patients are unfamiliar with the procedure or have questions about it. In this article, we’ll provide patient education on barium swallow.

What to Expect During the Procedure

During a barium swallow, you will be asked to drink a liquid that contains barium. The barium will coat your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine, making them more visible on X-rays. You may be asked to move into different positions or swallow additional amounts of barium during the procedure. The entire test usually takes about 30 minutes.

Preparing for a Barium Swallow

Before a barium swallow, you may be asked to fast for several hours. You should also inform your doctor if you are pregnant or have any conditions that may affect your ability to swallow. It’s important to follow all instructions provided by your healthcare provider to ensure the test is accurate.

Why a Barium Swallow is Performed

A barium swallow can help diagnose conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hiatal hernia, or ulcers. It can also help detect abnormalities such as strictures or tumors. Your healthcare provider may order a barium swallow if you are experiencing symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, chest pain, or heartburn.

Risks and Side Effects

A barium swallow is generally considered safe. However, some patients may experience side effects such as nausea, constipation, or abdominal discomfort. There is also a small risk of allergic reaction to the barium. If you experience any unusual symptoms after the procedure, you should contact your healthcare provider.

After the Procedure

After a barium swallow, you may resume normal activities and diet. However, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids to help flush out the barium. Your healthcare provider will inform you of any additional instructions or follow-up appointments.


Barium swallow is a common medical procedure that can help diagnose a variety of conditions. It’s important for patients to understand what to expect during the procedure, how to prepare, and any potential risks or side effects. By providing patient education on barium swallow, healthcare providers can help patients feel more comfortable and informed about the test.