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Esophagram (Barium Swallow) Esophagram, also called barium swallow, is an examination of the esophagus that uses a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and an orally ingested contrast material called barium. When the pharynx and esophagus are coated with barium, the radiologist is able to view and assess the anatomy and function in motion by viewing fluoroscopic images. The procedure is used to aid in diagnosing symptoms such as: difficulty swallowing pain in the chest or abdomen vomiting indigestion coughing How do I prepare? You should inform your physician of any medications you are taking and if you have any allergies, especially to barium or iodinated contrast material. Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. You will be asked to not eat or drink after midnight on the night before the exam. How is the procedure performed? While standing you will be given a small glass of fizzy water to drink. This will make your stomach feel distended. Then you will be given a glass of barium to drink, which can be flavored. The Radiologist will instruct you as to when to drink and how much to drink at a time. While you are drinking the barium, the Radiologist will be watching with the movie like sequence on the monitor. You will also lay down on the x-ray table for part of the exam. You may also be asked to drink some more barium through a straw while lying down while additional x-rays are obtained. What will I experience after the procedure? Following the Esophagram, you will be able to resume normal eating and drinking and return to normal activities. You are encouraged to drink plenty of liquids for 24 hours after your exam. For information on how to prepare for this exam, click here.