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Modified barium swallow test


What is a modified barium swallow?

Your doctor has ordered a test called a modified barium swallow. This test will tell us whether your child is having trouble swallowing. It will also show us whether there is anything we can do to make swallowing easier or safer for your child. For example, changing head position may make swallowing safer. Changing the texture of food may make swallowing easier.

Your child will not be allowed to eat or drink for 3 hours before the test. After the test, your child may be able to continue his regular diet or diet changes made be ordered. The staff will give you guidelines for what foods your child may have after the test.

The test is done in Diagnostic Imaging (DI). Everyone in the room except for your child will wear a lead apron to avoid exposure to the X-rays. You can stay with your child, but only one (1) parent can stay in the room.

Modified barium swallow

A speech-language pathologist will perform the test. Your child will be seated so the X-ray tube can focus on the mouth and throat.

As soon as your child is positioned properly, the staff member will give him a white liquid called barium to drink with a cup, spoon, or bottle. Generally, your child will be asked to swallow small amounts of barium pudding and then cookies with barium pudding on them.

The barium will make food or liquids appear on an X-ray when your child swallows. The camera will show the food and liquid as it moves from the mouth to the stomach. The pictures will be videotaped. The speech-language pathologist will watch carefully and look for swallowing problems. If problems are noted, the speech-language pathologist will suggest ways to make eating safer and easier for your child.

Are there any side effects?

Constipation is a rare side effect of barium. Your child’s doctor may recommend that your child drink extra fluids or take medicine if this occurs.


If you have questions about the modified barium swallow test, call Rehabilitation Services at 901-595-3621. If you are inside the hospital, dial 3621. If you are outside the Memphis area, call toll-free 1-866-2ST-JUDE (1-866-278-5833), extension 3621.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).