Barium Studies: Patient Information

Appointment Details

  • Appointment is required for these tests
  • Patient must bring in a signed requisition from their physician and health card
  • If you are late for your appointment you may be rebooked

What do I need to prepare?


    Nothing to eat or drink after 10 p.m. Do not chew gum or smoke the morning of the study.


    Patient is to purchase 1 box of PICO-SALAX at the drugstore. Read instructions before use. Before breakfast: mix 1 sachet with 5 ox of water, stir for 2-3 minutes (make sure it is cool before drinking) and drink contents. Mid afternoon - prepare 2nd sachet (same mixing directions) and drink contents. Follow meal instructions that are inside the box for breakfast, lunch and liquid supper. No further food is allowed after supper. Drink plenty of clear fluids; preferably water, until bowel movements have ceased. No food allowed morning of the study. You may drink water to satisfy thirst.


    Follow the barium enema (#2 above) instructions. This test will take up to 2 hours to complete.


  • GI Series

    A technologist will show you to a changeroom, give you a gown and ask you to remove some of your clothing. You will be brought into the x-ray room and then a radiologist will arrive. You will be asked to swallow a few gas causing granules with a small amount of water. The technologist will then give you a cup of barium and instructed to drink when the radiologist instructs you to. The barium will be imaged using fluoroscopy travelling down your oesophagus into your stomach finishing up at the duodenum. You will be asked to turn on your side, back, stomach and to stand to ensure all areas are seen for assessment. Once all images have been captured you will be able to dress and to return to your normal daily activities and reminded to drink fluids to flush the barium out of your system.

  • Small bowel follow through

    A technologist will show you to a change-room and you will be asked to drink some barium. After you have finished you will be asked to remove some of your clothing and put on a gown. The technologist will bring you into an x-ray room and instructed to lie on an exam table on your stomach. Pictures will be taken at set intervals, as per the radiologistsí instruction until the barium reaches the end of the small bowel (terminal ileum). Once this time you will be asked to remove your underwear in the change-room and then be taken into another x-ray room. A tip will be inserted into your rectum while you are lying on your side on the x-ray table. A radiologist will introduce carbon dioxide to produce better visualization of the terminal ileum. A few images will be taken and you will be shown to the washroom to expel some of the carbon dioxide. Once you are finished you will return to your change-room, dress and resume your normal daily activities.


    A technologist will show you to a changeroom and ask you to remove all of your clothing and put on a gown. You will be brought into an x-ray room and asked to lie on your left side. A Technologist will insert a special tip into your rectum. A piece of tape will be used to secure it. A Radiologist will perform the first part of the examination, which includes administering barium and carbon dioxide (which is easier for the body to absorb than air). You may experience slight abdominal cramping. He (she) will instruct you to hold in the barium and carbon dioxide and to turn into different positions (side, stomach, back, standing) to ensure that the bowel is completely imaged. The technologist will then take a few more images and then all are forwarded to the Radiologist. The special tip is removed once the radiologist confirms that all required images have been captured. The technologist will then remove the tip and you will be directed to the washroom at which time you will expel both the barium and carbon dioxide. You will be able to dress and resume your daily activities after this.

    The technologist will instruct you to consume extra fluid along with your regular meals to ensure the barium flushes out of your bowel to avoid getting constipated.