Barium Meal


A Barium Meal is an x-ray examination of the upper gastrointestinal tract. It involves swallowing a liquid contrast called barium which coats the lining of the oesophagus (gullet), stomach and small intestine so that it can be seen on x-rays.

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How long will the procedure take?

The examination usually takes between 10 – 15 minutes.


You must not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the examination.


You may be given granules which, when swallowed, will release some gas in your stomach. It is important to try to keep the gas in the stomach for the duration of the test. A cup of flavoured barium is then swallowed and you will be asked to roll into different positions on the x-ray table, to mix the barium and gas in your stomach and duodenum. A small injection may also be given to help relax your stomach. This may cause temporary blurring of vision.

You should not drive a car until your vision has returned to normal.

The barium will be viewed on the x-ray machine while you are moved into different positions to allow the barium to reach all parts of the stomach. The Radiologist will take a series of x-rays. While being x-rayed it is important to follow directions and hold your breath when asked, to ensure the x-rays are not blurred.

After the procedure

After the barium meal you will be given a mild laxative to take home with you to overcome the constipating effect of the barium. You should drink plenty of fluids. Your bowel actions may be white for some days following the procedure. This is completely normal.
If you are diabetic or have any other medical condition which requires a special diet and drugs, please inform us before your appointment. If you have any questions regarding the procedure please contact us or speak to your doctor.

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