A barium swallow or meal allows the radiologist to view your oesophagus (food pipe) and stomach.

Sometimes a speech pathologist will be present to assess the swallowing mechanism of their patient. In order to demonstrate eating solids, a biscuit or slice of bread is dipped in the barium and swallowed.

Barium swallows can be done at the following Jones Radiology locations:


For a barium swallow, you will be given some liquid barium to drink while standing in front of an X-ray camera. The liquid is white and chalky with no distinct taste. The barium is dense so it can be seen inside your body with the X-ray machine as it passes through. You may be asked to hold the liquid in your mouth and then swallow when asked to measure the timing. The radiologist will watch the liquid as you swallow and take images. Front and side-on perspectives are viewed. You may be given some additional liquid or granules to make gas in your stomach. The gas makes your stomach easier to see but will give you the urge to burp (which you should try not to do until the study is complete). The standing camera table can be laid down so your digestion can be assessed when lying down. This is usually done at the end of the procedure. You may be asked to turn onto your abdomen or side and drink some more barium through a straw.

Before your Scan

You will need to fast (not food or drink) for 6 hours before the examination.


15 – 30 minutes.

Other Information

After the procedure, the fluid (barium) you have swallowed may lead to constipation.

We suggest you drink more water or other healthy fluids than normal for two days after your examination.

If you have questions or concerns, please speak to the staff.

Are you ready to make your X-Ray appointment?

Our online booking platform allows you to quickly and easily make an appointment online.