Barium swallow

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 barium swallow, barium meal and follow through?

Barium swallow, barium 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) by swallowing a white liquid called barium.  Your child’s doctor has asked for this test and we would like to explain this examination to you.

What is barium?

Barium is a white liquid with a milk shake texture containing a radiopaque substance (barium sulphate) which makes the upper digestive tract visible.

We have chocolate or strawberry Nesquik to flavour the barium.

What happens in the barium 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 performed 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 observed.

The doctor / nurse will lay your child on the X-ray table and offer a chocolate or strawberry flavoured white liquid through a cup or a bottle while lying down.

As the barium is swallowed, the flow of the barium will be observed and X-ray pictures will be taken.  The barium will temporarily coat the inside lining of the oesophagus, stomach and small bowel.A member of staff will turn the child if required. As the organs fill with barium, loops of bowel will be seen on the television screen and a series of X-ray will be taken.

The pictures are checked and the test is complete.

How to prepare for this examination

If your child is bottle fed please bring an empty bottle and teat with you.

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 prior to procedure

6 months – 2 years

Nothing to eat or drink for 4 hours prior to 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 prior to 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.

Children on continuous tube feeds: Turn feeds off 2 hours prior to procedure.

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The Children's Hospital at Westmead

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