Barium meal and follow through

Barium sulphate is a liquid, which is opaque to x-rays and, therefore, shows up on film.

In this examination the barium is swallowed and followed through to the small intestine. It is usually done to make the diagnosis, or to study the progress of Crohn's disease in the small intestine.


You will be asked to eat or drink nothing for 6 hours prior to the examination. Normal medications may be taken.

The examination

This is carried out in the x-ray department. A barium drink is given highlighting the stomach and small intestine and a series of x-rays is taken. The radiologist may ask you to roll on your side and he may tilt the x-ray table to get better views.

Sometimes the barium is slow to pass through to the small intestine and you may be in the department for up to four hours.

After the test

The radiologist will send a report to your doctor. A laxative is given at the end of the test to help the barium to pass out of the bowel more easily. Your bowel motions may be white, due to the barium, for the next few days.

You may now eat and drink normally.