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Your doctor has requested an Esophageal Transit and/or Aspiration study. This booklet will answer some of the questions you may have. 

What is an Esophageal transit/Aspiration study? 

This study is a simple and painless way of taking pictures of your ability to swallow and to check if you have any reflux back into your lungs. 

What is involved? 

Esophageal Transit study only (30 min): 

When you arrive in the Nuclear Medicine Department, a technologist will explain the entire procedure to you and then give you the opportunity to ask any questions. Before the procedure begins, you will be asked to do a practice, where you will swallow some water. This is to make sure you are comfortable with the procedure. You will then be asked to do the same thing, but this time the water will be mixed with a small amount of radioactivity. There are no known side effects from this drink. The technologist will take several pictures of the swallowing process with the help of a special detector, called a gamma camera. The entire procedure will take about 30 min. 

Aspiration Study: (Up to 6 hours) 

In some cases, your doctor is checking to see if you have any reflux back into your throat and lungs. In this case, in addition to the esophageal transit study, we will perform an aspiration study. After the above procedure is completed, the technologist will give you an additional drink of some orange juice with a radioactive tracer mixed with it. Once you drink this, you will be asked to lie down on an imaging table. The technologist will use a special detector, called a gamma camera, to take pictures of your chest at intervals of 2, 4 and 6 hours or until aspiration is identified. If your doctor has requested the aspiration study, it will take most of the day to complete.  

Do I need to prepare for the scan? 

  • Bring your Health Card. 
  • You are required to fast overnight and cannot have anything to eat or drink until the test is complete. 
  • You will be required to refrain from smoking for a minimum of 2 hours before your appointment. 
  • Since there may be a few hours waiting time between imaging during this procedure, it may be beneficial to bring some reading material. There is free Wi-Fi available. 
  • Please leave all valuables at home. 
  • Please notify our booking office at the time of scheduling your appointment if you have any concerns regarding claustrophobia, lying still, require a mechanical lift for transfer to the imaging bed, have a language barrier or any other special needs, so that appropriate arrangements can be made ahead to provide you with the best possible care. 

Will it hurt? 

This procedure is painless. 

Is the radiation dangerous? 

The amount of radioactivity used for this test is quite small and the dose will disappear by itself after two days. The results of your scan will give your doctor useful information about your condition and will help them plan your treatment. The benefits of having the scan far outweigh any potential risk from the small radiation dose.  

Do I need to do anything after the scan? 

No special precautions are needed after the scan. If you are travelling across any borders in the seven days after your scan, please ask us for further advice. Border crossings and airports have very sensitive radiation detectors which may pick up tiny amounts of radioactivity remaining after your scan. We will give you a letter that you can show to customs officials at border crossings or airports. 

Is there anything I should tell the staff before the injection? 

Please tell us if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.  

What about breastfeeding? 

Breast feeding must be interruption of 4 hours after the exam, during which time one milk meal should be pumped and discarded. Prepare for your exam accordingly. 

How will I get the results of my scan? 

A specially trained doctor will examine the pictures. This is normally done soon after the end of the scan. A report is then sent to the doctor who asked us to do the scan. Your doctor will normally receive the report within one week. You will also have access to the report on MyChart as soon as it is released. 

If you have questions about the scan results or report, please contact your doctor directly. They are best able to interpret the report for you. 

Will this test cost me money? 

No. This test is paid for by the healthcare system. The test costs several hundred dollars, so please notify the department at 613-761-4831 if you cannot make your appointment. 

What should I do if I cannot make my appointment? 

If you cannot make you appointment, it is important that you notify the department at 613-761-4831 as soon as possible. Failure to make your appointment results in wasting of expensive materials that are ordered especially for your appointment and also reduces availability to other patients. Missed appointments may also result in delays of your treatments. 

Directions and Parking 

Civic Campus  1053 Carling Avenue – 1st Floor Tel.: 613-761-4831, option 8 Hours: Mon. – Fri., 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Directions: From within the Civic Campus, take the “C” elevators to the 1st Floor and follow the signs to Nuclear Medicine. Patients may also ask for directions at the patient information desk. General Campus  501 Smyth Road – Main level Tel.: 613-761-4831, option 8 Hours: Mon. – Fri., 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Directions: From the main entrance, follow the signs on the main level (located at the public elevators). Patients may also ask for directions at the patient Information desk. 
Park in either parking lot off Carling Avenue (P7) or in the multistory parking garage (P1).  Park in the parking garage which is located beside the main entrance just off Smyth Road.  

Parking instructions 

  • All parking lots are automated  
  • Take the parking ticket with you inside.  
  • When you have completed your appointment, you can pay by cash or credit card at one of our pay stations, or you can pay by credit card with express exit at the parking lot exit gates (the grace period after payment to leave facility is 20 minutes). 
  • Payment methods: 
    • Pay stations: Cash or credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express). 
  • Maximum parking fee is $13.00 

Visit The Ottawa Hospital’s website for additional directions and parking instructions and maps

Last updated on: May 25th, 2022