Private appointments are offered at:

The Somerfield Hospital
SPIRE Alexandra Hospital
The Maidstone Hospital

Barium Swallow and Meal
Important Information

Please inform the X ray staff when making your appointment if you are:

  • Taking any medication
  • Female and think you may be pregnant

Aim of Examination

A barium meal/swallow is an X ray investigation carried out to demonstrate the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine).

It is very important to ensure that the stomach is completely empty or it will not be possible to identify any problems that may be present. Therefore, have NOTHING TO EAT OR DRINK 6 hours prior to your appointment time.

You will be asked to change into an X ray gown for the examination. In the X ray room you will be given a powder to swallow with a small amount of water. This powder will produce a gas which distends the stomach and gives a much improved image quality for the examination. The examination continues with you standing in front of a camera whilst you drink from a cup of barium liquid as requested by the Radiologist. Some of the X ray will be taken whilst you are standing, others with you lying flat. It is possible that an injection of a mild muscle relaxant will need to be given to relax the stomach muscles to aid the examination.

After the examination
Following the barium meal, it is important to flush the barium through your system. Barium is a white substance that is excreted by your bowel and will make your stools appear pale or white in colour so drink plenty of fluids for at least 48 hours after the examination until your bowel habit has returned to normal.

This examination will take approximately 15 minutes although your total time in the department may be up to half an hour.

A follow up appointment will need to be made with the doctor/consultant who referred you as the results will be sent to them.