Fluoroscopy (including Barium Swallow and Enemas)

Our Fluoroscopy department provides many different examinations. You will find some information about our most common exams on this page. Please remember to follow all of the instructions on your letter and information sheets and to contact us as soon as you can if you have any queries or concerns or if you cannot attend your appointment as we may be able to offer it to someone else.

Barium Enema

This is an examination of the large bowel.

Barium and air (which show up on x-rays) are passed through a small tube, which is inserted into your back passage (rectum).  This may make you feel a little bloated, but we usually give an injection into your arm to relax the bowel muscles and make you feel more comfortable.  

During the examination, you will be asked to roll around on the x-ray table and you may have to stand up.  After we have taken the necessary pictures, the barium and air will be run out through the tube back into a bag.  You will then be taken to a toilet with washing and changing facilities. The procedure takes about half an hour.

Barium Follow through

This is an X-Ray study of the small bowel. 

Please inform the radiographer of any allergies, medical problems and past surgery.
To demonstrate the soft tissues of the gut it is necessary for you to drink a dense barium solution, which will coat the areas under investigation. To keep the barium moving through the loops of the small bowel it is important that you keep sipping the barium, this will help to keep the examination time down.

This study can take anything from 30 minutes to 6 hours therefore be prepared to be in the X-Ray department for this length of time. You may wish to bring a book or magazine with you.

The films are taken at intervals to check the progress of the barium through the small bowel, after which you will return to the waiting area. A relative or a friend may accompany you in the waiting room but will not be permitted into the X-Ray room.
When the barium has reached the distal part of the small bowel you will be taken to another X-Ray room where a doctor/radiographer will take detailed films of this area.
Please read the instructions carefully. The success of the examination depends on your co-operation in following the instructions exactly.

Barium Meal and Swallow 

This is an examination of part or all of the oesophagus (gullet), stomach and upper small bowel.

You will be asked to drink a small cup of fruit flavoured chalky liquid called barium (which shows up on X-rays) and take a fizzy drink that will make gas in your stomach. You may feel bloated. It is very important that you try to keep the gas down and not belch during the test to ensure a good examination. You will be asked to turn into different positions on the X-ray table. The test takes about 10 minutes.

Preparation before your Barium swallow/meal

In order to achieve a successful examination, your stomach must be completely empty.  You must stop eating and drinking 6 hours before your exam. You will be required to undress and remove any necklaces and earrings and to put on a hospital gown.

Medicines Information

If you wish to discuss how to manage your medication before or after your appointment please contact Medicines Information on 01752 439976.

Are there any risks?  

As with any examination there are some small risks involved. Despite these small risks, your doctor has recommended that you have the examination.  Please do remember that the risks by not having the examination will be much greater. Please see patient information leaflets for more details on individual exams.

Where to find us

Your examination will be carried out in X-Ray West, on Level 6, at Derriford Hospital.

To find the X-Ray West Reception area use the main hospital entrance on Level 6 and turn right at the League of Friends shop, you will find the reception area at the end of the corridor.  There are signposts to guide you to X-Ray West.

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