Contrast swallow, contrast meal and follow through

Disclaimer: This fact sheet is for education purposes only. Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for your child.

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What is contrast swallow, contrast meal and follow through?

A contrast swallow, contrast meal and follow through examination is a series of X-rays to show your child’s upper digestive tract (oesophagus, stomach and the small intestine) after swallowing a clear liquid that can be seen with xrays. 

Your child’s doctor has asked for this test and we would like to explain this examination to you. 

Which contrast is used?

We use a radiopaque clear contrast that is diluted.

What happens in the contrast meal and follow through examination?

This test is carried out in the Medical Imaging Department at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.  In this examination, a series of X-ray are taken of your child’s upper digestive tract. 

The test is done in a room with an X-ray table and a large camera above it.  The camera is linked to a television screen where an X-ray image of the upper digestive tract can be viewed.

The doctor or nurse will lay your child on the X-ray table and offer the contrast liquid. Your child will drink this through a cup or a bottle while they are lying down.

As the contrast is swallowed, the flow of the contrast will be viewed and X-ray pictures will be taken.  The contrast will temporarily coat the inside lining of the oesophagus, stomach and small bowel.    A member of staff will turn the child if needed.

As the organs fill with contrast, loops of bowel will be seen on the television screen and a series of X-ray will be taken.

The pictures are quickly checked and the test is then complete.

How to prepare for this examination

If your child is bottle fed please bring an empty formula bottle and teat with you. In some instances the contrast may be diluted with juice or formula.

Fasting times

Fasting means nothing to eat or drink, not even sips of water.

AGE

FASTING

0 – 6 months

Nothing to eat or drink for 2-3 hours before the procedure

6 months – 2 years

Nothing to eat or drink for 4 hours before the procedure. May have clear fluids up until 2 hours before test, then NOTHING TO EAT OR DRINK AT ALL.

2 – 6 years

NO FOOD OR MILK for 4 hours before the procedure. May have clear fluids up until 2 hours before test then NOTHING TO EAT OR DRINK AT ALL.

> 6 years

NO FOOD OR MILK ffrom 12 midnight the night before procedure. May have clear fluids up until 2 hours before test then NOTHING TO EAT OR DRINK AT ALL.

DIABETICS (INSULIN DEPENDANT) – In consultation with clinical team. 

Medical imaging booking and preparation

Staff will inform you of any preparation at time of booking.

Screening/Fluoroscopy enquiries: (02) 9845 2928

Email: SCHN-CHW-Screening@health.nsw.gov.au

Children on continuous tube feeds: Turn feeds off 2 hours before the procedure.

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