What is barium?
Barium is an inert fluid that enables the gastrointestinal tract to show up on radiographs.

How does barium taste?
Barium is not flavored per se. Some people don’t mind it, most would not go out of their way to drink it, but it is much better than barium products that were used 10 or more years ago. Most people who drank barium in the distant past remember a chalky-type consistency that is not as noticeable in modern-day barium.

Are there any risks from barium?
Essentially no. Barium doesn’t get absorbed into the body, it just passes through the GI tract. We do encourage patients to drink extra fluid after barium studies to avoid an element of constipation.

Why are bowel preps needed for some studies such as a barium enema?
Any stool remaining in the colon at the time of a barium enema can produce an appearance that mimics a polyp or cancer in the colon or even block the flow of barium into the colon.

Are there any risks related to the radiation from X rays or fluoroscopy?
The risk from the low levels of radiation used for modern radiographs is practically non-existent. Fluoroscopy uses higher doses of radiation, however, the main issue for fluoroscopy and X rays in general is to avoid radiation exposure to an early pregnancy (unless the study is absolutely necessary). It is also important to obtain studies such as these at professional facilities that maintain strict control over quality.