An esophagus x-ray is a study of the swallowing mechanism and the esophagus, the tube that leads from your mouth to your stomach. The exam is conducted using barium or gastrograffin, which are two types of contrast material. This test is done to evaluate abnormalities or obstructions of the esophagus or pharynx.

How do I prepare for the exam?

Do not eat or drink anything the morning of the exam.

What can I expect during the exam?

This exam is conducted by a radiologic technologist and a radiologist.

Most of the exam is performed in the upright position (you will be standing or sitting). The technologist will give you a glass of barium to drink while the radiologist watches under fluoro (live x-rays).

After adequate images have been taken in the upright position, the table will be placed in the flat position, and the radiologist will ask you to drink some more barium and/or water through a straw.

After the radiologist is done taking images with fluoro, the technologist may take plain X-rays as well.

The exam usually takes 30 minutes, but may take longer if ordered with an Upper GI as well.

What can I expect after the exam?

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids for the remainder of the day to flush the barium out of your system. White stools are normal for a day or two.