The liquid barium has a chalky taste, although the taste can be masked somewhat by added flavors such as strawberry or chocolate. If you receive gas producing crystals, you may feel the need to belch. However, the radiologist or technologist will tell you to hold the gas in as its presence in the stomach enhances the detail in the radiographic images.
First you will be standing up, then lying down, as the radiologist obtains pictures of your esophagus and stomach. You will be asked to hold your breath to prevent blurring of the still images. Also, periodically you will be asked to move into different positions while standing, and to roll into different positions while lying on the examining table. In some medical centers, the technologist can minimize patient movement by automatically tilting the examining table. These actions assure that the barium is coating all parts of the esophagus and stomach. As the procedure continues, the technologist or the radiologist may want you to drink more barium.
During this procedure, you may hear the mechanical noises of the radiographic apparatus moving into place. Once the examination is complete, you will be asked to wait. At this time, the radiologist will preliminarily examine the images to be sure they contain the necessary information for a careful evaluation later. If the radiographs are acceptable, you can dress and leave the examining area. Occasionally, repeat imaging may be necessary.
After the examination, you can resume a regular diet and take orally administered medications unless told otherwise by your doctor. The barium may color stools gray or white for 48 to 72 hours after the procedure. Sometimes the barium can cause temporary constipation, which is usually treated by an over-the-counter laxative.