Barium Swallow Video Test

What is a barium swallow with video?

barium swallow with video A barium swallow with video helps us evaluate how your child swallows. We do this by taking video x-rays while your child eats food mixed with a contrast agent. The procedure will be done in conjunction with Speech Therapy and/or the Feeding Team.

A barium swallow with video is a fluoroscopy procedure. This is an imaging technique that uses x-rays to create "real-time" or moving images of the body. It helps doctors see how an organ or body system functions. A radiologist (x-ray doctor) and radiologic technologist perform the procedures together.

In most of these types of exams, your child will lie on the table while the x-ray machine, called a fluoro tower, is brought overhead. The fluoro tower has a curtain on it; it's like being in a tent or a small car wash! You, the doctor and your child will be able to see the images on a television monitor in the room.

What should you do prior to the exam?

Your child will need an empty stomach for the procedure. Please follow the guidelines below depending on your child’s age:

  • Newborn to 6 months: no food three hours before the exam.
  • 7-24 months: no food four hours before the exam.
  • 24 months and older: no food six hours before the exam.

Notes:Speech Therapy and/or Feeding Team therapists are present for these studies.

If your child has a noted allergy to radiographic contrast, additional preparations may be necessary.

Dress your child comfortably, in clothes that are easily removed. Your child will be given a gown to change into for the procedure.

You may want to bring a snack or drink for your child to have after the exam.

Note: Parents will be allowed to accompany their child into the exam room. Other arrangements should be made for siblings.

Women who are pregnant or may be pregnant will be asked to leave the exam room during the procedure. Please make sure that there is someone else available to accompany your child during the exam, if needed.

What should you expect during the exam?

This exam takes an average of 30 minutes.

The technologist will ask why the barium swallow with video is being performed and explain the procedure to both you and your child.

The speech therapist and/or Feeding Team member will feed your child food of different textures, mixed with contrast material. The fluoroscopy machine is used to watch the food go down the throat, and see if the swallowing function is proper. The exam is videotaped so that it can be reviewed.

If you’d like, our child life specialists will help you prepare your child and support her during the procedure. We can also arrange to have a child life specialist at your child's appointment to explain the procedure in developmentally appropriate ways and to help your child better cope with the stress of the hospital experience.

Radiation Safety for Fluoroscopic Procedures

We are careful to limit the dose of radiation your child receives. Your child will wear a lead shield during the procedure. We also adjust the dose of radiation according to the size of the child and we administer the x-rays in a pulsed, rather than constant fashion to minimize the amount of radiation.

What should you do after the exam?

After the study, it is important to give your child extra fluids for the day because the barium may cause constipation.

If you have any problems or questions about constipation please call your primary care physician.

When your child does have a bowel movement, it may appear white or grayish—do not be alarmed!  The barium may cause this discoloration. The barium has no nutritional value.

Test results

The images from your child's exam are interpreted on the same day and a report sent to your physician's office.