A barium swallow studies how a patient swallows and how food travels down the esophagus. Patients have this procedure to evaluate conditions such as difficulty swallowing (dysphasia), epigastric pain, gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), or other upper gastric problems.

There is no preparation needed for an esophagram. Once you are in the exam room, you will be asked to drink 4 ounces of barium, which is about the consistency of a melted milkshake.

During the esophagram, the radiologist will watch you swallow the barium on an X-ray monitor.

This procedure lasts approximately 30 minutes. Usually, there is no discomfort or any after-effects for patients having this procedure.