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August 29, 1966

Barium Swallow

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1966;197(9):733. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110090097039

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To the Editor:—  The term "barium swallow" used to request a radiological examination is usually a disservice to the clinician, the patient, and the consulting radiologist. Unfortunately, this term is so ingrained in some physicians that it is probably ineradicable. However, the practitioner usually will obtain far more precise information, and will need fewer examinations if he states what disease or lesion he suspects or what question he wants answered."Barium swallow" has meant and does mean several things in the mind of the referring physician. However, at the moment of requesting a "barium swallow" the clinician usually has only one thing in mind; unfortunately the radiologist is not a mind reader. Techniques differ; it is not simply a matter of swallowing some barium."Barium swallow" may mean an examination of the hypopharynx or esophagus when one is looking for carcinoma, varices, cardiospasm, scleroderma, diverticula, webs, vascular rings, foreign bodies,