Barium x-ray: preparation, what shows

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 18.07.2022

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X-ray research is based on the fact that human tissues of different density absorb the rays emanating from the x-ray tube in different ways. This is best done by calcium, which is part of the bones, in the picture they are white, slightly worse for connective tissues, muscles, fat - they have a gray tint, organs filled with air are black. In order to improve the visualization of the hollow organs of the abdominal cavity, contrast agents are used that can absorb X-rays, one of which is barium sulfate. [1]

Indications for the procedure

Barium is used for x-rays of the gastrointestinal tract. It allows you to identify various pathologies, manifested by the following symptoms:

  • pain in the epigastrium;
  • severe and regular heartburn;
  • belching with a sour taste;
  • the presence of blood fragments in feces, mucus;
  • frequent stool disorder;
  • incomplete emptying of the intestine;
  • drastic weight loss.


Conducting x-rays with a contrast agent requires some preparation. Already 3 days before it, it is necessary to take special care of your diet, excluding from it foods that contribute to the formation of gases: cabbage, legumes, raw vegetables and fruits, whole milk; give up alcohol and smoking.

It is best to eat dietary meals, give preference to broths, grated soups, fruit juices without bright colors, and stop eating altogether in 12 hours. The procedure is preceded by the consumption of a suspension of barium sulfate with diluted water.

In some cases, a preliminary gastric lavage or bowel cleansing with an enema is required.

Technique of the barium x-ray

Depending on which organ is examined, the technique of the procedure is determined. When examining the esophagus and stomach, as a rule, they first make a survey x-ray of their walls, after which they give several sips of prepared barium and produce a primary sighting picture. It allows you to better see their relief.

Next, you need to drink a whole drink (for adults up to 300 ml, for children - 100 ml). The doctor can massage the epigastric region to help the substance evenly distribute throughout the stomach.

The radiologist removes the patient lying on his back, side, with a raised pelvis, standing. [2]

X-ray of the esophagus with barium

The esophagus is examined in case of violation of the swallowing process, pain in the chest of an incomprehensible nature, ingress of a foreign body, suspicion of a hernia. The procedure is performed while standing with the absolute immobility of the patient. The moment of swallowing the solution and complete filling of the organ is estimated. The picture is very informative and allows you to identify many pathologies, and also evaluates the patency of the esophagus, the elasticity of its walls, the nature of the contours, etc.

X-ray of the intestine with barium

The examination of the intestine takes place in several stages. The patient is offered to drink half a liter of barium suspension, if necessary, double contrasting is also supplied through the tube with air or an inert gas. The procedures are preceded by 2 hours of waiting, which is how long it will take for the contrast agent to reach the small intestine. The radiologist takes a series of pictures in various positions of the body. After defecation, one last control picture is taken.

What do they let you see? The film shows the mucous wall of the intestine, its relief, the dynamics of the movement of barium is traced, that is, its motility is determined, inflamed areas, neoplasms, diverticula, ulcerative processes, and malabsorption are detected.

X-ray of the large intestine with barium

An X-ray of the large intestine with the participation of barium is prescribed to confirm the diagnoses: colitis, appendicitis, intestinal obstruction, tumor, inter-intestinal abscess, etc. The patient drinks a glass of solution the day before, no other preparation is required.

Often, another procedure is carried out in parallel - barium enema, during which barium is injected with an enema. First, the intestines are cleansed to clean water, dinner and breakfast are canceled the day before. The enema solution is heated to 35 0 C, its volume is 1.5-2 liters.

The procedure is very unpleasant, there is an urge to defecate, painful spasms, a feeling of fullness. Doctors recommend breathing deeply through your mouth and enduring, otherwise all efforts may be in vain. For a better distribution of the staining substance through the intestines, it is necessary to change positions with photofixation of the organ. After emptying the bowels, another control picture is taken.

This method allows you to examine the rectum and anus. It shows the shape of the organ, its extensibility, patency, location, elasticity.

X-ray with barium for a child

Radiography with contrast for children is carried out in emergency cases in case of suspicion of abnormal development of organs or ingestion of a foreign object. Barium is not used in the first months of a child's life due to the radiation exposure of the substance. Its role is performed by fat- or water-soluble drugs.

Contraindications to the procedure

There are no absolute contraindications for fluoroscopy of the stomach, and pregnancy, gastric bleeding are considered relative.

An obstacle to the procedure with the intestines can be ulcerative colitis, perforation of its walls, bearing a child, tachycardia. Particular care requires intestinal obstruction, cystic pneumatosis, diarrhea, diverticulitis.

Complications after the procedure

The most troublesome possible complication of a barium fluoroscopy is an allergic reaction to the substance. This happens when there are violations at the stage of preparation of the procedure - a test for barium has not been carried out. The reaction may be swelling of the internal organs, difficulty breathing.

Consequences after the procedure

Nausea, indigestion, constipation in the first few days after the procedure can be an unpleasant consequence of the examination using an x-ray with barium. Intestinal examination may be accompanied by bloating, flatulence, and stools are painted white.

Care after the procedure

If an x-ray of the stomach does not cause discomfort and does not require special care after the procedure, except for some food restrictions in the form of coarse and plentiful food, then with an examination of the intestines, everything is not so simple. This is unpleasant, painful and requires a certain rehabilitation period: refusal of physical activity, taking laxatives for the speedy removal of barium from the body, delicate nutrition.


X-ray with barium of the esophagus and stomach, according to reviews, as a rule, does not cause any particular complaints, which cannot be said about the intestines. Nevertheless, a person is ready to go through all the tests in order to identify and eliminate the problem that debilitates him.

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