Gastroparesis · Hospital Experiences · Procedures

My Barium Meal Experience

I’m sorry I haven’t written for a while! I had my barium test last week, and I planned to write about it afterwards, however I wasn’t well. The test ended up making my stomach flare, and then the next day I had a migraine. This meant that I ended up in hospital the day after that to get meds and fluids. Needless to say, my plans to write were put on hold for several days.

As I said, last week I was booked to get a barium meal test. I have had several tests on my stomach and internal organs, due to my gastroparesis and other issues (they’ve found gastritis and a hiatal hernia), but never a barium test. It involves drinking a special drink and then getting a series of x-rays.

To prepare for it, you have to avoid having any iron tablets for several days, and have a low fibre diet for a few days before as well. That is easy for me, as my diet is mainly liquids and soft foods, and very low fibre anyways. You also have to avoid food for several hours before the test, and liquids for 1-2 hours. As my test was first thing in the morning, I woke up very early for a small drink, and avoided anything else.

I also knew that I’d be having to get a series of x-rays done, and so I’d have to get changed. To make my life easier, I wore comfortable clothes, and a sleeping bra that had no wires in it, which meant that I didn’t have to worry about changing into a gown at the hospital. I still got a gown to put over my clothes (to protect them in case I spilt the drink), but it was nice to not have the hassle of changing completely. I did have to take my earrings out though.

Because I tend to regurgitate or vomit everything I eat and drink, I warned the staff ahead of time that I might be sick. They were great, and one of the techs had a bowl ready at all times, just in case. I also warned them that I get dizzy and have balance issues, so they made sure I was comfortable, as the test involves standing against a table on a small shelf, and then having the table tilt back.

I was given the drink. It was white, and thick. It tasted like liquid Gaviscon (the antacid). It wasn’t horrifically unpleasant, but it certainly wasn’t pleasant either. Apparently, the drink makes the soft tissues (like the stomach and the bowels) show up better on the x-ray.

I was told to stand on the shelf, against the table. The x-ray was lined up. I was asked to take a gulp and hold it in my mouth, then swallow it. The doctor that was running the test then asked me to do it again. I did this several times, then they took the cup and told me they were going to tilt the table back.

The table tilted and soon I was laying on my back. I was given a pillow, and they took several x-rays. I was asked to go onto my right side, and then onto my back. I felt rather awful during this, and was heaving a bit. As soon as I turned onto my back, I started to throw up, so I quickly turned over again, and the tech was there with the bowl!

After a minute, they apologised, and asked if I could drink some more so that the test could continue. I really didn’t want to, but I wanted to get the test done, so I agreed.

I drank some more, lay down again, and then they tilted the table back up after taking more x-rays.

The whole process made me very nauseated and dizzy. I had to sit down for a while after.

They said that because the drink was still in my stomach, they wanted me to go in the waiting area for a bit, and then come back for more pictures.

After about 20 minutes, I was called back in, and they took more x-rays standing up and laying down. At this point, the drink was starting to leave my stomach, so they were happy to finish the test, and so was I.

Overall, it was a fairly painless procedure. It isn’t invasive and doesn’t take too much time, which is positive. I did find that it made me feel very ill and dizzy though, and this test is definitely not ideal if someone has mobility issues. If I had gone on a day when my balance was very bad, I’m not confident I would have been safe doing this test.

I’m not sure yet when I’ll find out the full results of my barium meal. It depends on when I see my consultant and if I see them, or the consultants at the other hospital next. I’m still waiting to hear about everything. Hopefully, it won’t be too long now!

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8 thoughts on “My Barium Meal Experience

  1. What a coincidence – I went for a barium test last week too! But mine was a barium follow-through study (grim cement-like drink rather than the food) and I was done fairly quickly with a fluoroscopy test rather than xrays (stoma means it was speedier as they just wanted to check end of the small bowel). I’m glad you managed to survive it okay too – like you, I don’t know when to expect results, but no doubt we’ll probably end up chasing up consultants soon when we haven’t heard anything. Wishing you all the very best! πŸ™‚

    I’ve also drafted a post about the barium drink, so I think it’s great you’ve shared your experience of the meal (I’ve not had that before so it’s enlightening for me too) for others who may be lined up for something similar.
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s funny that you had a barium test last week too! I hope you get your results quickly and don’t have to wait too long.

      I look forward to reading your post on your experience! It’ll be interesting to see how it differs from mine. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading this brought back memories of when I was having my swallow tested. I had to have the barium stuff but in different textures, I drink some, then had to mix some with yoghurt, and finally dip a digestive biscuit in some! My scan was live so I could see the stuff on a screen going down my throat. I thought it tasted yuk!
    Good luck with your results!

    Liked by 1 person

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