A barium swallow is a medical imaging test that is used to check the condition of the esophagus and the stomach for signs of any problem. It may be used with an X-ray or CT scan machine. The esophagus and stomach may have abnormal growths known as tumors within them. There may also be a blockage or some deformity in the shape of the area concerned. Symptoms such as pain during swallowing, acid reflux and spontaneous regurgitation of food are common reasons for a barium swallow test to be conducted. A normal imaging test will not be completely useful because the esophagus and stomach will not be clearly visible. A partial outline may be visible but this is not useful for medical diagnoses. The barium swallow test involves the consumption of a barium sulfate solution. This solution coats the lining of the esophagus and the stomach. When the subject is subsequently put through the imaging test, the area that has barium in it will light up brightly to be clearly visible. This makes a judgment and diagnosis much easier. The subject may need to be fasting before the barium swallow test so that the images are not hindered by the presence of food material.
It is also possible to have a barium swallow test for infants. It is usually not recommended to try a barium swallow test for children and other testing methods are always preferred. However, if the test is necessary, then it can be done. The quantity of the barium swallow for infants is obviously very small. Infants are usually put through this test when there is a problem of persistent gagging and food reflux. This test can be used to see the exact reason why the regurgitation is happening. Barium swallow for infants reflux is not the only application of the test. The test may also be applied to detect some structural defects that may be causing symptoms in the child. However, this test may be postponed to early childhood rather than infancy.
A barium swallow for newborn baby must be done under medical supervision. It is possible for the child to have an allergic reaction to the contrast material. This risk is usually slightly higher than in adults. Many doctors therefore prefer to use the symptoms alone as clues about the baby's condition and prefer to treat for these symptoms until the child is old enough to have such tests performed.More articles from the Medical Tests Category