Barium milkshake?Diagnosis for stomach ulcer requires a patient to drink this "barium milkshake". Whether its an xray or ct-scan, what does this milkshake allow for the doctors to see? And whats...

Barium milkshake?

Diagnosis for stomach ulcer requires a patient to drink this "barium milkshake". Whether its an xray or ct-scan, what does this milkshake allow for the doctors to see? And whats the bio/chem behind it?

Expert Answers
bandmanjoe eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The barium sulfate used in the so-called "barium milkshake" (which, by the way, hardly tastes like a milkshake of the yummy variety) is used to diagnose afflictions within the gastro-intestinal tract.  It is used in the radiological industry as an imaging tracer to diagnose problems within the stomach or the intestines.  Barium sulfate is an insoluble white powder that is mixed with water, thickeners, declumping agents, and flavors to make the imaging agent.  As the barium sulfate doesn't dissolve, this type of contrast agent is an opaque white mixture.  It is only used in the digestive tract, either swallowed or administered as an enema.  The barium sulfate is eliminated from the system via the feces.

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