barium meal, test for upper gastrointestinal tract, stomach cancer, ulcer, tumour, total barium meal" /> barium meal, test for upper gastrointestinal tract, stomach cancer, ulcer, tumour, total barium meal" />
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Test Details
Test Code:RA0270
Test Name:Total Barium Meal
Test Details & Preparation
A barium meal is an x-ray examination of your upper gastrointestinal tract. It is used to investigate whether you have got a stomach cancer or ulcer present. The test is performed in an x-ray department and involves the use of fluoroscopic x-rays to visualise barium, a contrast dye. The theory behind this test is that the dye coats the oesophagus and stomach revealing anything that protrudes from the lining such as a tumour or causes a pit in the lining like an ulcer. A barium meal is performed when an endoscopy can’t be performed.

You will fast from food and drink for 8 hours before a barium meal is performed. If you are on any medications, you will need to omit them on the day of your procedure unless advised by your doctor. If you have any concerns, discuss them with the doctor.

A barium meal test is a safe, but like any x-ray you will be exposed to radiation. The amount is approximately 50 times higher than the radiation exposure of a chest X-ray although this is within safe limits. There is an extremely rare risk of aspiration when the barium leaks into the lung if there is an abnormal communication between the oesophagus and lung. The procedure is not possible if you are pregnant. If there is any possibility of a perforation or hole in the oesophagus or stomach the test cannot be performed as the contrast can leak out.

The barium will turn your stools white in colour and can make you constipated. If you have a tendency to constipation, you will be advised to take a laxative and increase your fruit and fibre intake for a few days. If you are given Hyoscine or Buscopan, you may notice some blurring of your vision for a while and you can also experience palpitations with the drug as well as a dry mouth.

The test has to be interpreted by a radiologist who then sends a report to your specialist. The result will be conveyed to you when they have seen this. Sometimes the test can be inconclusive and in these circumstances further investigation will be advised.
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