X-rays reveal the internal structure of the body highlighting different densities, e.g. calcium-rich bones.

Barium Studies

Preparation for an Upper GI (Barium swallow, barium meal, small bowel follow through)

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The digestive system, (gastrointestinal tract), like other soft-tissue structures, does not show clearly enough for diagnostic purposes on plain radiographs. Barium shows clearly on a radiograph. If barium is swallowed before radiographs are taken, the barium within the esophagus, stomach or duodenum shows the shape of these organs.

Liquid suspensions of barium compounds are non-toxic, but they can cause constipation up to 48 hours afterwards. The technologist will remind you to drink lots of fluids for 24 hours after your test. They usually have a chalky taste that can be disguised by adding flavours.

A barium meal usually takes a very short time. The patient ingests gas pellets to expand the stomach. Barium is then ingested. The patient may move or roll over to coat the stomach and esophagus in barium. Following these preparations, an x-ray is taken. If the entire small bowel is required, the test can take significantly longer as the barium transits the bowel.

There are two varieties of barium meal: single and double contrast meals. A single contrast meal uses only barium to image the upper gastrointestinal tract. A double contrast meal uses barium as well as air, nitrogen, or carbon dioxide. The double contrast meal is more useful as a diagnostic test, demonstrating mucosal details and allowing the detection of small mucosal lesions such as diverticula or polyps.
Preparation for a Lower GI (Barium enema)

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A lower gastrointestinal series, also called a barium enema, is a medical procedure used to examine and diagnose problems with the human colon (large intestine). X-ray pictures are taken while barium fills the colon via the rectum.

This test may be done in a hospital or clinic radiology department. The patient lies on the X-ray table and a preliminary X-ray is taken. The patient is then asked to lie on the side while a well lubricated enema tube is inserted into the rectum. As the enema enters the body, the patient might have the sensation that their stomach is being filled. The barium is then allowed to flow into the colon. A small balloon at the tip of the enema tube may be inflated to help keep the barium inside. The flow of the barium is monitored by the health care provider on an X-ray fluoroscope screen (like a TV monitor). Air may be puffed into the colon to distend it and provide better images (often called a "double-contrast" exam). The patient is usually asked to move to different positions and the table is slightly tipped to get different views.
IVP (Intravenous Pyelogram)
Preparation for an IVP
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An intravenous pyelogram (also known as IVP, pyelography, intravenous urogram or IVU) is a radiological procedure used to visualise abnormalities of the urinary system, including the kidneys, ureters, and bladder.

An injection of x-ray contrast media is given to a patient via a needle or cannula into the vein. The contrast is removed from the body via the kidneys and is visible there on x-rays almost immediately. X-rays are taken at specific time intervals to capture the contrast as it travels through the different parts of the urinary system. This gives a comprehensive view of the patient's anatomy and some information on the functioning of the renal system

No preparation required

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A cystogram is a radiographic examination of the bladder. A small catherer is placed into the urethra by a nurse. The catheter is used to deliver a clear liquid contrast into the bladder, causing it to expand as if it were full of urine. The radiologist will take pictures of the bladder while it is full of contrast. The catheter may then be removed and pictures taken as the patient urinates out the contrast.