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Fluoroscopy - Barium Burger

What is a Barium Burger?

A barium burger is the fluoroscopic evaluation of the gastric pouch created when a patient undergoes a gastric bypass procedure, as it is filled with a contrast material called barium and also a hamburger coated in barium.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

A barium burger is done for patients that have had gastric bypass surgery, but are beginning to gain weight.

How should I prepare for the procedure?

Take nothing by mouth after midnight.

You should bring a plain hamburger with you for the exam.

Before the procedure begins, you will be asked to remove all jewelry and to change into a gown, so that no metal items will show up on the images.

Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility that they may be pregnant.

What does the equipment look like?

You will be positioned on an exam table.  Above you will be a box-like structure containing the x-ray tube and fluoroscopic equipment that will send the images to a screen in the exam room.  Underneath the table will be a special drawer that holds film in a cassette tray for the development of still images.

How does the procedure work?

The radiologist monitors the flow of barium through the gastric pouch with a fluoroscope, a device that projects radiographic images in real time onto a screen in the exam room.  Still images are obtained as the barium passes through and again after the ingestion of the hamburger.

How is the procedure performed?

Barium burger imaging is usually scheduled in the morning to reduce your time of fasting.

A technologist will position you on the exam table.  An x-ray will be taken prior to drinking the barium.  The radiologist will instruct you when to drink and what position to turn as they view the passage of barium through the gastric pouch on the screen.  Still images of the pouch will be taken.  You will them be instructed to sit down and given on the meat portion of the hamburger.  It will be cut into small bites and coated in barium.  The technologist will instruct you to eat one piece at a time until you feel full.  You will also be instructed to count the number of pieces you eat.  Once you are full, three x-rays are taken of the pouch.  Then, there is a 30 minute waiting period before an additional three images are taken.

The exam is usually completed within 1 hour.

What will I experience during the procedure?

The liquid barium has a chalky taste.  The hamburger coated in barium is also very chalky.  Some patients dislike not only the taste, but also the texture.  You will be asked to move into different positions while standing and while lying down on the exam table.  Some patients experience discomfort as a result of lying on the exam table, a hard surface that is typically quite cold.

After the procedure, you may resume a regular diet.  The barium may color stools gray or white for 48-72 hours.  Sometimes the barium can cause constipation, which is usually taken care of by an over-the-counter laxative.  You should increase your intake of water to help flush the barium from your gastrointestinal tract.

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

A radiologist will interpret the images, and a signed report will be sent to your physician who will discuss the results with you.