Preparing for Barium Swallow: Learn All About a Modified Barium Swallow

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What is a Modified Barium Swallow?

If you are experiencing problems with your digestive system you may be asked to come in for a modified barium swallow. It really is a simple procedure that allows doctors to track what happens inside your body when you are digesting something. They can do this because barium is nor penetrated by xrays so it shows up very clear in contrast to the rest of your body in an xray.

What to Expect

The patient will be asked to swallow a white liquid. An xray technician will be there to take pictures as the liquid travels through the body of the patient. The patient may be asked to lay down and move around to make it easier to take xrays of what is happening along the digestive tract of the patient.


Patients are told not to eat or drink any dairy products the day before the procedure. As of midnight the night before the procedure, the patient should not eat or drink anything at all. Continue to take any prescribed medications, but inform the Doctor of what it is you are taking, even if it is over the counter. The doctor may ask you to omit some medications for a specific period of time but if not, then continue to take them as you normally would.

As with any medical procedure, inform your doctor of any allergies you may have. Also, as with any xray, be sure to remove any metal jewelry and inform the xray technician of any metal pieces you have that are non-removable, such as pins or rods that are surgically implanted.

After the procedure you will be encouraged to drink 8-10 glasses of water to expel the barium from your system.

This is a painless procedure that only assists your doctor in finding out what it anything, is wrong with your digestive tract. As always, feel free to ask your doctor about any questions or concerns you have about the procedure.

References: North Field Hospital