These studies are specialised x-ray procedures using a solution containing barium to examine the gastrointestinal tract, namely the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.
The most common studies are barium swallows, barium meals and barium enemas.
Day Before Examination
The Morning Of The Examination
Note: Continue all medications if you are on medication. However, if you are a diabetic and you are not taking any food, then please do not take your anti-diabetic drugs.
You will be required to change into a hospital gown. A locker will be provided for your belongings but please keep your valuables at home.
During the procedure
After The Examination
Please do not change out of your hospital gown immediately after the examination. It may be necessary to do some additional views after the initial images have been processed and reviewed.
You may need to go to the lavatory after the procedure. You can expect to see white stools for the next 1-2 days, due to the barium solution.
Once you are allowed to go back, please drink lots of fluid to avoid constipation.
The radiologist will review the images and report the findings to your physician, who will then discuss the results with you on your next appointment.
As with all procedures utilising ionising radiation, the radiation risks are present. However, the benefits of an accurate diagnosis far outweigh the risks.
In rare cases, the barium suspension can leak through an undetected perforation in the lower gastrointestinal tract, producing inflammation in surrounding tissues.
Even more rarely, the barium can cause an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract, called barium impaction.
A barium enema is usually not indicated for someone who is in extreme abdominal pain or had a recent colonic biopsy. If perforation is suspected, the study should be performed with iodinated solution, instead of a barium suspension.
X-ray imaging is not usually indicated for pregnant women.