Barium / Gastrografin Meal

Barium / Gastrografin Meal

The barium meal is a radiological examination of the upper gastro-intestinal tract which includes the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. It is used to demonstrate inflammation, stricture formation, hiatal hernia as well as ulcers and tumours. It can be performed using a single or double contrast technique where barium is swallowed and a series of X-rays is taken. The optimum way of performing this examination utilises the double contrast method which produces good distension as well as good coating of the mucosal surface permitting demonstration of superficial abnormalities as well as larger lesions.

The examination commences with an intravenous injection of Buscopan (or equivalent) which causes relaxation of the smooth muscle in the stomach for 10 to 15 minutes. This allows the stomach to be adequately distended and stops peristalsis for the period of the test. A granular effervescent agent is then swallowed with a small amount of water. This generates gas in the stomach to distend it. Thereafter a cup of barium with the consistency of runny cream is swallowed and X-rays of the oesophagus are taken.

The patient then lies down and rolls over and over several times to coat the surface of the stomach and duodenum. A further series of X-rays is taken showing these areas in a variety of projections to demonstrate any abnormalities.

At the conclusion of the examination a mild purgative is administered to facilitate the passage of the barium and the patient is encouraged to drink plenty of fluid.


Preparation for a barium meal:
The patient should have had neither food nor drink for at least 8 hours prior to the examination so that the stomach is both empty and dry before the test. This permits the surface of the stomach to be properly coated by the barium.  Diabetic patients who need to take medication are advised to bring their medication and a meal along so they can eat and take their medication directly after the examination.   You will need to book an appointment for this procedure.  Always inform the radiographer and radiologist of any medical conditions and allergies. Female patients must inform our staff if they are pregnant.


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