, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 55–72 | Cite as

History and Evolution of the Barium Swallow for Evaluation of the Pharynx and Esophagus

  • Marc S. LevineEmail author
  • Stephen E. Rubesin


This article reviews the history of the barium swallow from its early role in radiology to its current status as an important diagnostic test in modern radiology practice. Though a variety of diagnostic procedures can be performed to evaluate patients with dysphagia or other pharyngeal or esophageal symptoms, the barium study has evolved into a readily available, non-invasive, and cost-effective technique that can facilitate the selection of additional diagnostic tests and guide decisions about medical, endoscopic, or surgical management. This article focuses on the evolution of fluoroscopic equipment, radiography, and contrast media for evaluating the pharynx and esophagus, the importance of understanding pharyngoesophageal relationships, and major advances that have occurred in the radiologic diagnosis of select esophageal diseases, including gastroesophageal reflux disease, infectious esophagitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, esophageal carcinoma, and esophageal motility disorders.


Barium swallow Barium esophagogram Pharyngoesophagography Fluoroscopy Esophageal disease 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyHospital of the University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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