Barium is a chemical element found in the periodic table which has an atomic number of 56. It is found in group 2 of the periodic table and hence it is an alkaline metal. Barium is most commonly used in Hospitals under Radiology. Radiology is the study of X-rays and Ultrasounds. A radiographer or a radiologist is a person who specialises in dealing in this field of medicine. Hospitals use Barium in the form of liquid to conducts X-rays on the esophagus and the stomach to view soft tissues.
What are X-rays
An X-ray is part of an electromagnetic spectrum. It is a fast and painless procedure that takes various images of your body. It will only capture hard bones that are found in the body. X-rays are passed through the body anything that is dense; Bone it will be absorbed, and it will show as a white area on the image. However it will become much more difficult to visualise soft tissues on an X-ray. This is where Barium is used.
Barium swallows are a white coloured liquid form of Barium that is taken by patients before having an x-ray of the Esophagus or the stomach. Barium swallow will also contain small amounts of Barium Sulphate this will align the edges of the esophagus and the stomach, X-rays can’t pass through Barium as it is Dense. So it will show up as white on the image and radiographers can then be able to see the stomach and Esophagus.
Barium can also be used for Barium Meals, this is also used in Radiology. This is when again Barium is used in a liquid form to look for any problems that could be found in the stomach. The patient then sits down to allows the liquid to cover the whole of the digestive system. After taking the Barium you also take some Citric acid and and bicarbonate soda. The gases produced will help open the esophagus and the stomach much larger. This allows the radiologist to clearly see the insides.
The benefits to Radiologists of using barium meals and swallows outweighs all the risks from using Barium Swallow. Hence why Barium plays an important role in hospitals