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X-ray examination – contrast

Contrast Radiography
In what cases do we recommend contrast radiography?

Some imaging procedures require contrast medium for appropriate imaging. The physician may establish a more precise diagnosis based on the X-ray using contrast medium. We primarily recommend the examination for different gastrointestinal complaints:

  • swallowing difficulties,
  • stomach pain,
  • stomach cramps,
  • diarrhoea,
  • changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool.

The examination is also recommended to clarify the cause of lesions in the kidney or the urinary tract, as well as the assessment of the blockage of the fallopian tubes for cases of fertility problems.

At what age can the examination be performed?

If needed, the examination can be performed for anyone; however, having an X-ray examination is not recommended during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Please make sure to inform your physician about these.

What are the risks involved with the examination?

During contrast radiography, imaging is performed with the help of X-rays, which causes radiation exposure. However, with appropriate indication, the information expected from the examination is more beneficial to the patient’s health than the risk of radiation exposure, which is kept at the lowest possible level. For some types of examinations, the contrast medium has to be injected into the veins, which may cause mild side effects (e.g. heat waves, warm sensation). Very rarely, in 0.01 to 0.5 percent of the examinations, allergic reactions might occur.

How do I request a contrast radiography?

X-ray examinations covered by public health insurance are only performed on medical referral and by appointment. The booking time is usually 1 to 2 weeks.
The examination can also be requested without a referral from a specialist in the form of private care; however, even in this case, a written medical recommendation is still required. The examination will usually be performed within 1 to 2 days in our private clinics.

Contrast Radiography types
SWALLOW X-RAY EXAMINATION WITH CONTRAST MEDIUM

A swallow X-ray is recommended for the examination of different structures of the oesophagus, as it helps detect the cause of swallowing difficulties. The examination is harmless, painless and takes 15 to 20 minutes on average.

How is the examination performed?

Clothes and necklaces need to be removed for the examination. The patient is to swallow thick or thinner contrast medium during the examination, while the physician follows the process of swallowing on the monitor of the X-ray machine.

How should I prepare for the examination?

The examination does not require any preparation at home.

STOMACH X-RAY EXAMINATION WITH CONTRAST MEDIUM
How is the examination performed?

A stomach X-ray examination with contrast medium is performed in upright and supine positions. The patient is to ingest 2 to 3 decilitres of liquid barium contrast medium at a specific pace, and in some cases, patients are also given an effervescent powder. The examination is harmless, painless and takes 15 to 20 minutes on average.

How should I prepare for the examination?

Please arrive on an empty stomach and do not smoke 1 hour prior to the examination to avoid increased gastric juice production.

SMALL INTESTINE X-RAY EXAMINATION WITH CONTRAST MEDIUM
How is the examination performed?

The examination is usually performed in an upright position, but can also be performed in a supine position for patients in a poor condition. The patient is to swallow 4 to 5 decilitres of barium contrast medium, and the physician follows the progress of the medium on a monitor. In some cases, the contrast medium has to be introduced directly into the small intestine through a nasogastric tube advanced to the first loop of the small intestine. In such cases, the first phase of the tube introduction might cause some discomfort.
The examination lasts 1 to 1.5 hours on average, depending on the contrast medium’s elimination rate from the patient’s stomach and intestines. This time does not entail a continuous examination; most of the time is spent waiting for the contrast medium to leave the stomach and intestines.

How should I prepare for the examination?

Please arrive on an empty stomach and do not smoke 1 hour prior to the examination to avoid increased gastric juice production.

LARGE INTESTINE X-RAY EXAMINATION WITH CONTRAST MEDIUM
How is the examination performed?

The examination is performed in a supine position. A tube is introduced into the anus, through which 5 to 6 decilitres of liquid barium contrast medium is administered, and its way to the large intestine is followed. Then, the large intestine is completely filled with air, during and after which X-ray images are made. This way, the position, potential blockage, spaciousness and the wall of the bowel can be visualised. The examination lasts 25 to 30 minutes, and it is painless.

How should I prepare for the examination?

Colonic irrigation is necessary for a successful examination. A gentle way to do this is not to eat anything after a light breakfast the day before the examination. You should drink X-Prep or Fleet Phospho-Soda, which are laxatives developed especially for this reason, as well as plenty of pulp-free and non-carbonated fluids (for example tea). If needed, enema may be given in the morning of the examination if the bowels are not empty enough.

X-RAY EXAMINATION OF THE KIDNEY CAVITY SYSTEM AND THE URINARY TRACT WITH CONTRAST MEDIUM (INTRAVENOUS UROGRAPHY)
How is the examination performed?

The examination is performed in a supine position. A possible method involves introducing intravenous contrast medium and making X-ray images of the kidney and the urinary tract at certain intervals. This method has now been replaced by CT and MR urography in many places, because they provide substantially more information. However, in certain cases, it might be necessary to fill the urinary tract with contrast medium “backwards”, from the urinary bladder, and visualise the urinary tract this way. This examination is performed under sterile conditions, under X-ray visualisation.

The X-ray examination of the kidney cavity system and the urinary tract with contrast medium can only be carried out on a urologist’s recommendation. The examination lasts 60 minutes on average; it causes no pain, only some discomfort.

How should I prepare for the examination?

Please arrive for the examination on an empty stomach.