View Full Version : Reflux & Barium Test. How safe is it?
I am rather concern about my son who is whose behaviour has been rather erratic. He has been crying a lot and occassionally has a spew. We seem to have problem getting wind out of him after each feed. I am wondering if he may have colic or hernia. Lately while I am breastfeeding him he would suddenly cry then coil his arms up in a fit , his face would turn bright red then he would stare blankly at you and within a few mins falls asleep almost instantly. This also happens when we put him down on his bed , he would play happily on his own then in an instant he experiences the above symptoms. It happens for a few secs. We took him to see the paed & GP prior before they all said it is normal.
A couple of nights he experienced the symptoms again, so we took him to Emergency and he is now been hospitalised for a week now for observation and further tests. The paed have prescribed losec 3ml twice daily and have told us they are organising a barium test for him.
I am a bit apprehensive and wonders how safe these tests are and if it is common to prescribe these test for infants since my ds is only 11 weeks old. I'm worried the effect these test will have on myds.
What is the most common tests done to diagnose reflux?
Please help :(
I am so pleased that you contnued to trust your instincts, and took your son up to the hospital after his episodes. Reflux can present in a lot of different ways, but I would think the going red, staring blankly for a few seconds and then falling asleep immediately would be unusual. I am glad the doctors are investigating it, and I hope you get some answers- whether it is reflux, or something else.
It can be so difficult to know what is going on, and you have done exactly the right thing by the sounds of it.
I totally understand your apprehension about having the tests though, especially when he is so young. Not all babies need tests for reflux, and they generally can't definitely diagnose reflux. From the information we have, a Barium swallow is generally used to check their anatomy and rule out other issues e.g. hiatus hernia.
Have the staff talked to you about what to expect? Have you told them how apprehensive you are? I think it would be a great idea to talk to them about it, as they may be able to put some of your fears to rest, although I can offer some information.
Firstly, you will be asked to not feed your bub for a certain amount of time prior to the test. They want to make sure the barium he has is able to coat his stomach and intestines well, and I think maybe to also make sure he drinks it too, when it is offered.
It may depend on the hospital whether you can express and give them some breastmilk they can add the Barium to, but it may be worth asking if you can.
They will place your bub on a table, underneath an xray machine, and then offer him the barium solution to drink (it may be in a bottle, syringe or some other device- again, it depends on the hospital). They will watch on a nearby screen as he swallows the Barium, and they will take a series of xrays at the same time. They may also move the table a little or your bub, just to make sure the Barium coats his tummy and oesophagus well.
When my son was a baby, he had a Ba swallow done (at 11 weeks also), and I was allowed to stay with him, but had to wear a protective gown because of the xrays. My son wasn't all that happy, but did drink the Barium solution quite okay. It didn't seem to take too long, and I was able to cuddle him and give him a breastfeed to make him (and me) feel a bit better. They said the Barium can cause constipation, but frequent breastfeeds would help it pass through, which it did.
Once they take the series of xrays, the test is over, so although it was all very scary and I was very apprehensive, it didn't seem too bad once it was over- so hopefully that will help you to feel better.
Please ask lots of questions though. It may be quite a normal, common test for them to be doing, but to you it isn't, so don't be afraid to ask questions and talk to the nurses about it.
I hope you get the answers you need too.
Oh, there are some other tests that they sometimes use for reflux too- depending on what they are looking for, so I'll be happy to help if you need more information on them.
I hope that helps
Thanks for your assurance. I will definitely try and ask lots of questions. I am terribly worried about the side effects these tests will have on my ds.
You mentioned in your reply that you are aware of other tests that is used to diagnose reflux, can you let me know which tests it is so I can perhaps bring this up to the hospital as an alternative?
I presume if I decide not to put my ds through the test I can let the hospital know?
I totally understand your concerns- as a mum of reflux children myself, and having been through lots too, I know how awful it is! It may sound quite easy, but when it is your child going through it, it is something completely different!
Each of the tests that may be used for reflux are used only in specific circumstances. The doctors will be looking for specific things, like checking his anatomy, and perhaps seeing how often he refluxes acid during the day. Personally, I think the Ba swallow is the easiest to tolerate, but that of course is very subjective. Apart from possible constipation from the Barium, I don't think there are any other side effects, but please ask. I have never heard of any, but that doesnt mean there isn;t of course (please keep in mind I am a mum, and not a health professional).
Sometimes they will do an endoscopy, where bub would need to sleep with the help of a general anaesthetic. They put a flexible tube down their mouth while they are sleeping and then carefully down their oesophagus and check their anatomy and sometimes take tiny tissue samples and /or photos. They have to be admitted to hospital for this one, and after it is done, they will be taken to a recovery area, and the nurses will do observations for several hours.
Another test is the pH probe- they put a very tiny tube down their nose, and into their oesophgus. This tube is then taped onto their face and the end is attached to a computer which records episodes of acid reflux throughout the test. It is usually performed for 24 hours, but may be only 12hrs. Sometimes they need to stay in hospital for this, while other times they can go home- I think that is hospital procedure more than anything, but I'm not sure.
Another test is a milk scan- it is a little bit similar to the barium swallow, where they put a special solution in their drink, and take pictures as they swallow, though the solution is different, and it usually takes quite a while longer- sometimes around an hour. This can check to see how long the feed stays in your bubs stomach if they continue it long enough.
There are some other tests, but those are the ones that are most likely. I don't think the tests are useful for diagnosing reflux, but they can tell a lot about what is happening.
It may help you feel better if you ask what they are doing the test for, and what they are trying to find. Of course if you decided not to go ahead with it, you have that right to say no. It may help though, to think about what all your concerns are (if you can), and talk it over with the doctors. If you know what they are looking for, or trying to rule out, then it may help you to feel more comfortable. It sounds like you need answers to what is happening, so whatever you decide to do, I hope you get the answers you need.
I hope too, that the extra information helps.
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