Barium Swallow & Meal

Lake Imaging offers Barium Swallow & Meal at:                


About Barium Swallow & Meal

Barium swallow and barium meal examinations are performed to examine the oesophagus (the tube connecting the mouth and the stomach) and stomach. Barium is a chalky white liquid that when swallowed enables the oesophagus and stomach to be seen on an x-ray image.

A barium swallow or meal requires you to swallow a liquid suspension of barium sulphate before a series of X-rays are taken of your upper digestive tract.

In a barium swallow, x-ray images are taken of your pharynx (throat) and your oesophagus.  A barium meal examines the stomach and the beginning of your duodenum (the first section of your small intestine that takes food away from your stomach). A barium meal examination is often performed immediately after a barium swallow.

You may be referred to Lake Imaging for barium swallow or barium meal examinations by your doctor to investigate or eliminate the possibility of an abnormality in your upper digestive tract.

Your appointment and preparation

A referral from a doctor and an appointment are required for barium swallow and barium meal examinations.

You must have nothing to eat or drink for four hours prior to your examination.

What can I expect during Barium Swallow & Meal?

Before the procedure begins at you will be asked to change from your clothes into a simple gown so that folds of clothing and metal fasteners do not interfere with the acquisition of clear x-ray images.

In the x-ray room you will be positioned on the x-ray fluoroscopy machine, then given instructions for swallowing the barium solution while the x-ray images are taken. This may be performed a number of times with you in varied positions. During these procedures you will usually be required to swallow about one cup in total.

If x-rays are to be taken of your stomach (barium meal), you may also be asked to drink a small amount of two other liquids, these liquids combine to produce a gas that expands your stomach, making it easier to detect any abnormalities in its lining. This can make you feel a little ‘gassy’, but you will be asked to resist the urge to burp so that the gas remains in your stomach until after the x-rays have been taken.  

What are the risks and side effects?

X-rays require the use of ionising radiation.  As with all x-rays, there is always a slight risk as you will receive a small dose of radiation.  X-rays are only performed where it is deemed the benefit of the examination will outweigh any potential risks. At Lake Imaging you can be assured that using the latest technology and with staff trained in radiation reduction techniques, radiation doses are kept as low as reasonably possible.  Our state of the art x-ray equipment uses minimal amounts of x-rays to produce the best quality images for a diagnosis.

If it is possible that you may be pregnant, please tell our radiology team before your x-rays are taken to avoid any risks to your unborn child.

If you are worried or concerned about having x-rays you should discuss this with your referrer before coming for your examination.

For further information regarding radiation safety please visit:

Who will perform my Barium Meal & Swallow and write the report?

At Lake Imaging your examination will be carried out by a Radiologist (a medical doctor specialising in the interpretation of medical images), who will then prepare and send a report to your referring doctor detailing the findings of your barium examination.

What should I expect after my examination?

Once your examination is complete you will be free to leave and return to normal activity. You may eat and drink normally. We recommend that you drink plenty of extra fluids for the next 24hrs to ensure that all of the barium consumed in the examination is passed through the bowel.

How do I obtain my results?

If medically urgent, or you have an appointment immediately after your x-ray to see your referring doctor or health care provider, Lake imaging will arrange to have your results available immediately.  Otherwise, your referring doctor or health care provider will receive your report within 48 hours of your examination.

Please ensure that you make a follow up appointment with your referring doctor or health care provider to discuss your results.