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Test Details
Test Code:RA0217
Test Name:Barium Meal
Test Details & Preparation
A barium meal, also known as an upper gastrointestinal (GI) series, is a medical imaging test of the upper portion of the gastrointestinal tract. This test generally provides x-ray images of the oesophagus, stomach and first portion of the small intestine, known as the duodenum. During a barium meal test, a patient typically swallows a barium liquid that tends to show up very clearly on an x-ray and improves the quality of images from the upper portion of the gastrointestinal tract.

Physicians may have patients take a barium meal test to help with diagnosis of one or more medical conditions. Abnormal growths, ulcers and abnormal narrowing of the upper part of the digestive tract are visible on some x-ray images that are taken with a barium meal. In some cases, enlarged veins in the oesophagus and hiatal hernias can be seen on x-rays that are highlighted with barium liquid. Tumours and muscle abnormalities in the oesophagus, stomach or duodenum may be revealed with the help of an upper GI series.

Some doctors order x-rays with a barium meal for patients who have symptoms that suggest a disorder in the upper gastrointestinal tract. People with nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain may benefit from upper gastrointestinal series x-ray tests. Individuals with swallowing problems and unusual weight loss also undergo an upper gastrointestinal series in some instances. Gastrointestinal reflux is a medical condition that typically causes digestive juices to enter a patient’s oesophagus, where they may cause tissue damage that an upper GI series may reveal.

In rare cases, patients may develop constipation or a bowel obstruction from barium solution used in a barium meal test. Patients who consume plenty of liquids after a test usually have a lower risk of developing bowel obstruction or constipation. Allergic reactions to barium solution may occur and are typically treated with antihistamines. Patients develop symptoms such as abdominal pain or fever in rare instances after a barium meal. Many patients may benefit from discussing unusual symptoms or side effects with their doctors.
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