Barium sulfate remains the standard substance for contrast GI imaging. Barium is an insoluble material that is suspended in different carriers by different manufacturers. It has high viscosity and is not absorbed by the GI tract. Gastrograffin is a water-soluble substance, has low viscosity, and, like barium, is not absorbed by the GI tract in most normal adult patients. It is absorbed slightly by the gut in children. Gastrograffin draws substantial amounts of fluid into the bowel lumen, and its low viscosity causes rapid transit through the small bowel into the colon. It therefore has a considerable laxative effect. Gastrograffin is not a recommended oral contrast agent in children, particularly neonates and infants, since the fluid shifts and laxative effect may cause significant fluid and electrolyte disturbances.
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