A ‘barium follow-through’ is an examination of the small bowel with the help of X-rays and barium contrast. The test is carried out by a radiologist (a doctor who uses x-ray to diagnose and treat conditions), and a radiographer (a health care professional that helps facilitate the x-ray images safely). Sometimes, an assistant or a student radiographer may also be present.
Normally, your bowel does not show well on X-ray on its own. Barium contrast, a thick white chalky liquid, can be seen on X-rays and when swallowed it coats the wall making it visible. On occasion, a different, clear liquid may be used.
After you swallow the liquid, the radiologist takes X-ray images and examines the shape and movement of your small bowel looking for potential problems.