Hospital slang

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Aug 16 03:38:40 UTC 2005

>Since my cancer diagnosis in June 2002, I have had CT scans every few
>months, each of which was preceded by three tall cupfuls (or were
>they cupsful?) of the barium drink, and my last couple of PET scans
>were as well.  The standard term the staff use is "barium milkshake"
>(no thanks, make mine vanilla).

I've heard this "milkshake". However it's not in universal use (a local CT
technologist denied being familiar with it: I asked specifically). The CT
barium drink is too thin to be called a milkshake, isn't it? I think maybe
it's sometimes called a "milkshake" for one or both of two reasons: (1)
it's a suspension (barium sulphate is insoluble in water) so it is shaken
up at some point; (2) the less dilute suspension used for "upper GI series"
and other fluoroscopic examinations (used long before CT) is much thicker.

>In the CT scans, I'm always hooked up to an IV (either through
>my chest port or the standard access via a vein in my arm) through
>which some dilution of iodine is administered.  That yields a not
>really unpleasant but hard to contextualize taste of potatoes and a
>warm feeling in the throat.  (I'm not a fan of anisette, pastis,
>Ricard, Pernod, or other licoricey drinks, but I never associate
>either the iodine IV or the barium milkshake with that flavor.)

I don't know why an IV infusion should result in any taste sensation at
all, although I know it often does.

The thing which tastes (sort of) licoricey to me is the *orally*
administered iodine contrast (Gastrografin; there are others which I
haven't tried).

-- Doug Wilson

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