Barium Swallows for Reflux

Barium Swallows for RefluxWhile gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is diagnosed symptomatically, your acid reflux doctor may want to perform diagnostic testing to confirm the cause of the symptoms. A barium swallow is one of the least invasive methods to do so.

What is a Barium Swallow?

By swallowing the barium solution, characteristics of the esophagus and pharynx become highlighted. This makes it possible for your acid reflux doctor to see any abnormalities that may be causing your severe heartburn and reflux.

Barium swallow makes it possible to detect the following abnormalities in the upper GI tract:

  • Tumors
  • Ulcers
  • Hernias
  • Esophageal diverticula
  • Narrowing of the esophagus or stricture
  • Inflammation

This diagnostic examination uses an x-ray to analyze the health of the upper gastrointestinal (upper GI) tract, including the esophagus, or the tube through which food passes from the throat to the stomach, and the pharynx, which is the back of the mouth and the throat.

Prior to the x-ray examination, you will be asked to swallow barium sulfate. The barium swallow is made of a dry, white, metallic powder that is chalky in consistency. It is mixed with water to be turned into a drinkable solution. This barium solution will cause the pharynx and esophagus to show on the x-ray, allowing your physician to see a clear picture of the state of your upper GI.

The barium swallow procedure generally lasts about 20 minutes. The solution is almost tasteless, and the experience is entirely painless. During the x-ray you’ll be able to breathe freely, and will not experience any downtime following your appointment. The barium solution will be naturally excreted by your body in a matter of days.

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