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What Is A Barium Swallow Following Gastric Bypass

Are you interested in learning what a Barium Swallow? Look no further. I will tell you all about it.

Last week I spoke to a specialist regarding my Gastric Bypass procedure which I had back in 2016. If you have followed my weight loss journey, you may be aware that I had a RNY Gastric Bypass in an attempt to lose weight and become healthier.

My weight loss started off well. In fact I lost quite a lot of weight when I first had the operation. During the first 10 days I found myself back in hospital and was nil by mouth and I naturally lost a lot of weight.

During the following three to four months, whilst on the liquid, soft food and mashed food stages, I lost more weight, however once I began solid foods things changed.

Despite what professionals told me “should” happen, I was able to eat much more than expected. In fact I was unable to lose weight and over the months have regained my weight which is honestly quite depressing.

After 2 and a half years, I have spoken to a bariatric nurse and she suggested I have a Barium Swallow.

What is a Barium Swallow?

A Barium Swallow is an examination of the oesophagus, (or gullet) and the Stomach. The purpose of this examination is to enable the specialist to see what happens when you swallow.

In the case of bariatric patients, such as myself who have had a Gastric bypass or other weight loss surgery procedure, a Barium Swallow can be very useful in providing information about the size of the stomach.

A Barium Swallow can help to know whether the stomach has stretched since surgery and working out possible reasons while a gastric bypass is unsuccessful.

In my case, it could be that my stomach was never made small enough in the first place, (hence the reason I have always been able to eat a lot more than expected).

My stomach may have stretched, although I don’t see this as the case as my issues began as soon as I went onto solid food. Alternatively I could simply be eating the wrong foods and not using my tool (the pouch) correctly.

The bariatric nurse said it would be good to know what the reason is for my lack of weight loss and weight regain in order to find a way to get back on track.

Preparing For A Barium Swallow

When having a barium swallow, you will be asked to go nil by mouth for 4 hours before drinking the Barium liquid.

You will be given a liquid drink the consistency of a milkshake. This liquid will coat the oesophagus, the tube between the mouth and stomach. The liquid will also line the stomach.

The barium swallow liquid is visible on an x-ray and you will be taken to an x-ray machine where you will lay flat on a table. The table will then be tilted while images are taken. The imaging process will take up to 15 minutes.

After The Barium Swallow

After your x-ray you can return to your daily activities. Make sure you drink lots of fluids over the next 24 hours. Your bowel motions may be pale in colour for a short period due to the barium.

Your specialist will be able to look at your x-rays and the results to determine what is going on in the stomach area.

How Much Is A Barium Swallow?

In the UK a private Barium Swallow procedure is around £400. Personally this is a lot of money to pay and therefore I will be asking my NHS specialist if I qualify for the procedure as a NHS patient.

If the answer is no, then I have a decision to make. Save up and find out exactly what is going on or don’t.

For me this is something I need time to consider. I really do want to know what is going on. I have been told the procedure didn’t work as planned but it would be good to have a real medical explanation.

The bariatric nurse said, if my stomach is not the right size or it has been stretched then there is the option for gastric bypass revision.

However if it’s a matter of my steroid medication making me hungry and not eating enough of the right foods then the best course of action would be to see a specialist dietician.

I have seen a dietician for the past two years and it really has not helped. I followed the guidelines but was always still hungry.

I would be very interested to know the results of a Barium Swallow and know what is going on inside my body.

So for now I will wait for my next NHS appointment in 3-4 months and see what the bariatric specialist says.

That will give me time to decide whether a Barium swallow is what I need to help work out what went wrong with my Weight Loss Surgery. I will keep you updated.

Angela x