Medical Imaging and the Use of Barium Sulfate

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This figure contains one image. A black and white abdominal x-ray image is shown in which the intestinal tract of a person is clearly visible in white.
Figure 1. A suspension of barium sulfate coats the intestinal tract, permitting greater visual detail than a traditional X-ray. (credit modification of work by “glitzy queen00”/Wikimedia Commons)

Medical Imaging and the Use of Barium Sulfate (OpenStax Chemistry 2e)

Various types of medical imaging techniques are used to aid diagnoses of illnesses in a noninvasive manner. One such technique utilizes the ingestion of a barium compound before taking an X-ray image. A suspension of barium sulfate, a chalky powder, is ingested by the patient. Since the Ksp of barium sulfate is 2.3 ×× 10–8, very little of it dissolves as it coats the lining of the patient’s intestinal tract. Barium-coated areas of the digestive tract then appear on an X-ray as white, allowing for greater visual detail than a traditional X-ray (Figure 1).

Medical imaging using barium sulfate can be used to diagnose acid reflux disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcers in addition to other conditions.

Source:

Flowers, P., Theopold, K., Langley, R., & Robinson, W. R. (2019, February 14). Chemistry 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/books/chemistry-2e

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