Your Barium Swallow

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What is a Barium Swallow?
A Barium Swallow is an examination of the gullet, or oesophagus, which does not normally show up well on an X-ray.

Are there any risks?
There are risks involved with all X-rays as radiation is used. In this procedure you will be subject to an amount of radiation comparable to that which we receive naturally from the environment over a period of 12 to 18 months. As your doctor feels he needs to investigate a potential problem, the risk from not having the examination could be greater. Ask the radiographer if you have
any concerns.

Am I required to make any special preparations?
Yes, please follow the instructions on your appointment letter. All women between the ages of 12-50 years will be asked to provide the date of their last menstrual period and the examination will only be carried out within a certain time during the menstrual cycle. Except in exceptional circumstances this examination will not be carried out on women who are or might be pregnant.

Parking at the Hospital
The hospital operates a pay on foot parking system. The current charges are £2.50 for the first hour, £3.50 up to three hours and £4.50 up to 6 hours. The first 30 minutes are free. The hospital has plenty of car parking spaces but you may not be able to park close to the entrance. You are advised to allow plenty of time to find a space before your appointment.

Where do I book in?
Please go to the reception desk in main X-ray, you will find directions to the department in your appointment letter.

What happens next?
You will be shown to a cubicle where you can undress. You will be asked to put on a hospital gown. You may wish to bring your own dressing gown as well.

What happens during the investigation?
You will be taken into the X-ray room and asked to take off the dressing gown if you have brought one; you will keep the hospital gown on. You will be asked to swallow a few mouthfuls of barium, which has a ‘chalky’ taste but is not unpleasant. A rapid series of films is taken following the barium down to the stomach.

How long will it take?
This whole process should take about 20 minutes. Unless your examination is delayed, for example by an emergency patient, you will be in the department for about 30 minutes.

Are there any after-effects?
The barium used in the examination may cause constipation. Take plenty of fluids for a few days after the examination to avoid this. If severe constipation occurs, laxatives may be used at the direction of your General Practitioner.

If you have a query
If you have a query about having the ultrasound scan, please ring the Radiology Department on 01908 995672, 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Web Links
For further information you may like to visit the following sites – For further information about Milton Keynes Hospital – This is the web site of the Royal College of Radiologists and click into the virtual hospital this will give you a lot of useful information about the work of a Radiology Department.
Please park in the Multi storey car park and follow the instructions on your appointment letter. Up to date maps and site plans can be found on the hospital web site as above.

© The Royal College of Radiologists, July 2000. Permission is granted to modify and/or re-produce these leaflets for purposes relating to the improvement of health care provided that the source is acknowledged and that none of the material is used for commercial gain. The material may not be used for any other purpose without prior consent from the College.