Purpose: This test provides x-ray imaging of the esophagus and upper stomach, including anatomy and motility of the esophagus. It is useful in evaluating patients with swallowing problems and acid reflux, and is frequently obtained in evaluating patients with esophageal and gastric problems.
Description: Cine esophagram is performed in the x-ray (radiology) department, generally at Swedish Medical Center. You will be given a thick, chalky-tasting liquid (barium) as well as a pill to swallow. X-ray images (a video recording) are obtained during swallows.
Alternatives: In some cases where a video version cannot be performed, traditional still images (barium swallow) may be obtained.
Risks: A barium swallow is generally a safe test. Allergic reactions to barium are very uncommon but may occur. Constipation may result from the barium and sometimes a mild laxative is helpful. Rarely, barium may be aspirated into the lungs during the test. There is some exposure to radiation, but less when a video is obtained instead of still images.
Preparation: There is no sedation, so you can drive yourself. There is no preparation needed for a cine esophagram. This test will be arranged through our office, and is most commonly done at Swedish Medical Center.