Barium sulfate is a radiopaque agent. Radiopaque agents are used to help diagnose certain medical problems. Since radiopaque agents are opaque to (block) x-rays, the areas of the body in which they are localized will appear white on the x-ray film. This creates the needed distinction, or contrast, between one organ and other tissues. The contrast will help the doctor see any special conditions that may exist in that organ or part of the body.
Barium sulfate is taken by mouth or given rectally by enema. If taken by mouth, it makes the esophagus, the stomach, and/or the small intestine opaque to the x-rays so that they can be “photographed”. If it is given by enema, the colon and/or the small intestine can be seen and photographed by x-rays.
The dose of barium sulfate will be different for different patients and depends on the type of test. The strength of the suspension and tablet is determined by how much barium they contain. Different tests will require a different strength and amount of suspension (some may require the tablet form), depending on the age of the patient, the contrast needed, and the x-ray equipment used.
You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking barium sulfate:
constipation (severe, continuing)
nausea or vomiting
stomach or lower abdominal pain
tightness in chest or troubled breathing
Some of the side effects that can occur with barium sulfate may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:
Constipation or diarrhea
(oral powder for reconstitution, oral paste, compounding powder, oral tablet, oral and rectal suspension, oral suspension, oral and rectal powder for reconstitution, oral capsule, rectal suspension, oral cream, rectal powder for reconstitution)