Varibar Thin Liquid

Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP Last updated on RxList: 11/16/2022

Drug Summary

What Is Varibar Thin Liquid?

Varibar Thin Liquid (barium sulfate) is a radiopaque contrast agent indicated for use in modified barium swallow examinations to evaluate the oral and pharyngeal function and morphology in adult and pediatric patients.

What Are Side Effects of Varibar Thin Liquid?

Varibar Thin Liquid may cause serious side effects including:

  • hives,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat,
  • severe stomach pain,
  • severe stomach cramps,
  • diarrhea,
  • constipation,
  • chest pain,
  • difficulty swallowing,
  • ringing in your ears,
  • sweating,
  • confusion,
  • fast heart rate,
  • pale skin,
  • blue colored skin, and
  • weakness

Get medical help right away, if you have any of the symptoms listed above.

Common side effects of Varibar Thin Liquid include:

  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea, and
  • abdominal cramping

Seek medical care or call 911 at once if you have the following serious side effects:

  • Serious eye symptoms such as sudden vision loss, blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights;
  • Serious heart symptoms such as fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeats; fluttering in your chest; shortness of breath; and sudden dizziness, lightheartedness, or passing out;
  • Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, arm or leg weakness, trouble walking, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady, very stiff muscles, high fever, profuse sweating, or tremors.

This document does not contain all possible side effects and others may occur. Check with your physician for additional information about side effects.

Dosage for Varibar Thin Liquid

The recommended dose of Varibar Thin Liquid is 5 mL for adults, 1 mL to 3 mL for pediatric patients 6 months and older, and 0.5 mL to 1 mL for pediatric patients younger than 6 months of age.

What Drugs, Substances, or Supplements Interact with Varibar Thin Liquid?

Varibar Thin Liquid may interact with other drugs. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use.

Varibar Thin Liquid During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant before using Varibar Thin Liquid. Varibar Thin Liquid is not absorbed systemically following oral administration, and maternal use is not expected to result in fetal exposure to the drug, and breastfeeding is not expected to result in exposure of the infant to the drug. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Additional Information

Our Varibar Thin Liquid (barium sulfate) for Oral Suspension Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

Drug Description


VARIBAR THIN LIQUID (barium sulfate) is a radiographic contrast agent that is supplied as a white to lightly colored powder for suspension (81% w/w) with an apple aroma for oral administration. The active ingredient barium sulfate is designated chemically as BaSO4 with a molecular weight of 233.4 g/mol, a density of 4.5 g/cm3, and the following chemical structure:

VARIBAR THIN LIQUID (barium sulfate) Structural Formula Illustration

VARIBAR THIN LIQUID has a viscosity of <15 cPs when reconstituted and contains the following excipients: carboxymethylcellulose sodium, citric acid, maltodextrin, natural and artificial apple flavor, polysorbate 80, saccharin sodium, simethicone, sodium citrate, sorbitol and xylitol.

Indications & Dosage


VARIBAR THIN LIQUID is indicated for modified barium swallow examinations to evaluate the oral and pharyngeal function and morphology in adult and pediatric patients.


Recommended Dosing And Administration Instructions

  • The recommended dose of reconstituted VARIBAR THIN LIQUID administered orally by infant bottle, syringe, spoon, or cup is:
    • Adults: 5 mL
    • Pediatric patients 6 months and older: 1 mL to 3 mL
    • Pediatric patients younger than 6 months of age: 0.5 mL to 1 mL
  • During a single modified barium swallow examination, multiple doses of VARIBAR THIN LIQUID may be administered, to assess the patient during multiple swallows and different radiographic views.
  • The maximum cumulative dose is 80 mL.
  • For oral use only
  • Advise patients to hydrate following the barium sulfate procedure.

Instructions For Reconstitution

The VARIBAR THIN LIQUID powder must be reconstituted prior to administration by a healthcare provideraccording to the following instructions:

  • Add water to the fill line on the bottle label
  • Replace the lid securely
  • Invert the bottle and tap with fingers to mix the powder into the water
  • Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Let stand for 5 minutes
  • Refill with water to the fill line on the bottle label and reshake thoroughly.
  • Once reconstituted, write the discard after date on the immediate container label. After reconstitution,store in refrigerator at 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F) for up to 72 hours.
  • Reconstitution yields approximately 300 mL of VARIBAR THIN LIQUID oral suspension containing 0.4 grams of barium sulfate per mL (40% w/v) and should be homogeneous and white to lightly colored.


Dosage Forms And Strengths

For Oral Suspension

120 grams of barium sulfate supplied as a white to lightly colored powder (81% w/w) in a multiple-dose plastic bottle for reconstitution.

Storage And Handling

How Supplied

VARIBAR THIN LIQUID is supplied as a white to lightly colored powder in a multiple-dose polyethylene bottle containing 120 grams of barium sulfate (81% w/w).

Provided as: 24 x 148 g bottles (NDC 32909-105-10)

Storage And Handling

Store at USP controlled room temperature 20°C to 25°C (68° F to 77° F).

Manufactured by: EZEM Canada Inc Anjou (Quebec) Canada H1J 2Z4. Revised: Apr 2019

Side Effects & Drug Interactions


The following adverse reactions have been identified from spontaneous reporting or clinical studies of barium sulfate administered orally. Because the reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or to establish a causal relationship to drug exposure:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping
  • Serious adverse reactions and fatalities include aspiration pneumonitis, barium sulfate impaction, intestinal perforation with consequent peritonitis and granuloma formation, vasovagal and syncopal episodes


No Information Provided

Warnings & Precautions


Included as part of the "PRECAUTIONS" Section


Hypersensitivity Reactions

Barium sulfate preparations contain a number of excipients, including natural and artificial flavors and may induce serious hypersensitivity reactions. The manifestations include hypotension, bronchospasm and other respiratory impairments, and dermal reactions including rashes, urticaria and itching. A history of bronchial asthma, atopy, food allergies, or a previous reaction to a contrast agent may increase the risk for hypersensitivity reactions.

Emergency equipment and trained personnel should be immediately available for treatment of a hypersensitivity reaction.

Intra-Abdominal Barium Leakage

The use of VARIBAR THIN LIQUID is contraindicated in patients at high risk of perforation of the GI tract [see CONTRAINDICATIONS]. Administration of VARIBAR THIN LIQUID may result in leakage of barium from the GI tract in the presence of conditions such as carcinomas, GI fistula, inflammatory bowel disease, gastric or duodenal ulcer, appendicitis, or diverticulitis, and in patients with a severe stenosis at any level of the GI tract, especially if it is distal to the stomach. The barium leakage has been associated with peritonitis and granuloma formation.

Delayed Gastrointestinal Transit And Obstruction

Orally administered barium sulfate may accumulate proximal to a constricting lesion of the colon, causing obstruction or impaction with development of baroliths (inspissated barium associated with feces) and may lead to abdominal pain, appendicitis, bowel obstruction, or rarely perforation. Patients with the following conditions are at higher risk for developing obstruction or baroliths: severe stenosis at any level of the GI tract, impaired GI motility, electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, on a low residue diet, taking medications that delay GI motility, constipation, pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis or Hirschsprung disease, and the elderly [see Use In Specific Populations]. To reduce the risk of delayed GI transit and obstruction, patients should maintain adequate hydration after the barium sulfate procedure.

Aspiration Pneumonitis

The use of VARIBAR THIN LIQUID is contraindicated in patients with trachea-esophageal fistula [see CONTRAINDICATIONS]. Oral administration of barium is associated with aspiration pneumonitis, especially in patients with a history of food aspiration or with compromised swallowing mechanism. Vomiting following oral administration of barium sulfate may lead to aspiration pneumonitis.

In patients at risk for aspiration, begin the procedure with a small ingested volume of VARIBAR THIN LIQUID. Monitor the patient closely for aspiration, discontinue administration of VARIBAR THIN LIQUID if aspiration is suspected, and monitor for development of aspiration pneumonitis.

Systemic Embolization

Barium sulfate products may occasionally intravasate into the venous drainage of the GI tract and enter the circulation as a "barium embolus" leading to potentially fatal complications which include systemic and pulmonary embolism, disseminated intravascular coagulation, septicemia and prolonged severe hypotension. Although this complication is exceedingly uncommon after oral administration of a barium sulfate suspension, monitor patients for potential intravasation when administering barium sulfate.

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility

No animal studies have been performed to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of barium sulfate or potential effects on fertility.

Use In Specific Populations


Risk Summary

VARIBAR THIN LIQUID is not absorbed systemically following oral administration, and maternal use is not expected to result in fetal exposure to the drug.


Risk Summary

VARIBAR THIN LIQUID is not absorbed systemically by the mother following oral administration, and breastfeeding is not expected to result in exposure of the infant to the drug.

Pediatric Use

The efficacy of VARIBAR THIN LIQUID in pediatric patients is based on successful opacification of the pharynx during modified barium swallow examinations [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. Safety and dosing recommendations in pediatric patients are based on clinical experience.

VARIBAR THIN LIQUID is contraindicated in pediatric patients with trachea-esophageal fistula. [see CONTRAINDICATIONS]. Pediatric patients with a history of asthma or food allergies may be at increased risk for development of hypersensitivity reactions [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Monitor patients with cystic fibrosis or Hirschsprung disease for bowel obstruction after use [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of VARIBAR THIN LIQUID did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.

Overdose & Contraindications


No Information Provided


VARIBAR THIN LIQUID is contraindicated in patients with:

  • known or suspected perforation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract
  • known obstruction of the GI tract
  • high risk of GI perforation such as those with a recent GI perforation, acute GI hemorrhage or ischemia, toxic megacolon, severe ileus, post GI surgery or biopsy, acute GI injury or burn, or recent radiotherapy to the pelvis
  • high risk of aspiration such as those with known or suspected tracheo-esophageal fistula or obtundation
  • known severe hypersensitivity to barium sulfate or any of the excipients of VARIBAR THIN LIQUID
Clinical Pharmacology


Mechanism Of Action

Due to its high atomic number, barium (the active ingredient in VARIBAR THIN LIQUID) is opaque to x-rays and therefore acts as a positive contrast agent for radiographic studies.


Barium sulfate is biologically inert and has no known pharmacological effects.


Under physiological conditions, barium sulfate passes through the gastrointestinal tract in an unchanged form and is absorbed only in small, pharmacologically insignificant amounts.

Medication Guide


After administration, advise patients to:

  • Maintain adequate hydration [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
  • Seek medical attention for worsening of constipation or slow gastrointestinal passage [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
  • Seek medical attention for any delayed onset of hypersensitivity: rash, urticaria, or respiratory difficulty [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
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