Monday, June 4
Before the introduction of endoscopy, an x-ray of the esophagus (called an esophagram) was the only means of diagnosing GERD. Patients swallowed barium (contrast material), and x-rays of the barium-filled esophagus were then taken. The problem with the esophagram was that it was an insensitive test for diagnosing GERD. That is, it failed to find signs of GERD in many patients who had GERD because the patients had little or no damage to the lining of the esophagus. The x-rays were able to show only the infrequent complications of GERD, for example, ulcers and strictures. X-rays have been abandoned as a means of diagnosing GERD, although they still can be useful in addition to endoscopy in the evaluation of complications.