Barium Swallow / Meal (Contrast X-ray Examination)

barrium swallow

Contrast X-ray examination is performed to reveal the structure of the gastrointestinal tract and its parts. The patient drink a barium contrast liquid which provides a radiopaque white shadow on the screen, reflecting the structure of the digestive tract and indicating the contours and mucous membrane of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. Barium accumulates in the areas where there are any pathological changes, thus, making it possible to detect ulcers, tumors, erosions and esophageal varices.


Contrast X-ray examination of the esophagus, stomach and intestine helps define the shape of these organs, their position and the state of the mucous membrane relief, tone and peristalsis. This method plays an crucial part in the diagnosis of peptic ulcer disease, tumors of the digestive tract, biliary tract malformations and cholelithiasis. It is also important for the detection of complications (gastric stenosis, penetration of gastric ulcer, esophageal varices, dolichosigmoid, megacolon, etc.) as well as for the evaluation of the functional (motor-evacuation) disorders nature.


The test should be performed in the morning on an empty stomach. The day before the procedure the patient may have a light dinner.


The contrast X-ray examination of the colon is called irrigoscopy. It is performed with the help of a barium contrast enema. Irrigoscopy helps determine the state of the mucous membrane, tone and peristalsis of the certain parts of the colon, its shape and position. It is effective for the detection of various colon disorders such as tumors, ulcers, polyps, diverticulum, and bowel obstruction.