X-rays are occasionally used to evaluate throat disorders. X-rays are primarily used to evaluate for foreign bodies but can also be used to evaluate the soft tissues for swelling or gas. X-rays are beneficial in that they are inexpensive to perform, readily available at numerous sites and only use a small amount of radiation in comparison to CT scans. X-rays can be used to evaluate whether or not someone has swallowed a foreign body such as a fish bone or chicken bone.
X-rays are also taken during modified barium swallow studies and esophagograms. During these studies an individual is asked to drink a thick white liquid known as barium and may also be asked to eat certain types of food. Multiple x-rays are then taken to follow the barium/food travel from the throat into the esophagus and eventually into the stomach.