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Test: Barium Swallow

A barium swallow is a test used to visualize the oesophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. The test can detect disorders or abnormalities of the oesophagus, such as narrowing or tumours. A barium solution is used because it shows up on X-rays, which are taken continuously to monitor the flow of the solution. The barium may cause temporary constipation.

During the procedure

While standing in front of the X-ray machine, you are asked to swallow a barium solution as a series of X-rays is taken. The procedure takes about 15 minutes to complete.


Oesophageal stricture

This contrast X-ray shows a narrowed area called a stricture in the lower section of the oesophagus.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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