Inside the X-ray room, the radiographer will take an X-ray of your abdomen to make certain that your stomach is empty. Next, you will be asked to drink liquid barium. Barium is a special compound that allows radiographic visualization of the gastrointestinal tract. Barium usually is white or pink, and it may be flavored. It coats the walls of your upper digestive tract, casting shadows that can be recorded on X-ray film.
As the barium flows through your digestive tract, the radiographer will take X-rays to watch the barium move through your small intestine. The technologist may ask you to walk around, sit up or lay on your right side in order to help the barium move through your intestine more quickly. Once the barium reaches the juncture of your small intestine to your large intestine, the radiologist will come in and take some fluoroscopy images. They may ask you to turn from side to side or they may gently press on your stomach so they can see everything.
Once the examination is complete, the radiologist will interpret the medical images and dictate a report for your ordering physician.
You should increase your water intake in the days following your examination. The barium may make your stools white for a few days. This is normal. If you experience constipation following the examination, tell your doctor. You may be advised to take a laxative.
The radiation that you are exposed to during this examination, like the radiation produced during any other X-ray procedure, passes through you immediately. You are not “radioactive,” and it is not necessary to take any special precautions following your examination.
Please remember that the material presented here is for informational purposes only. If you have specific questions about a medical imaging procedure, contact your physician or the Radiology Department of the institution where your test will be performed.
To schedule an imaging procedure, please call Radiology Scheduling at (903) 870-3604.