Flocculation refers to the breakdown of a barium suspension during a fluoroscopic study.
The small bowel environment eventually separates out a barium suspension, and this can occur during the normal course of a barium study (15 minutes to three hours). When the suspension flocculates, it no longer can coat the bowel very well and may lead to errors in interpretation.
Flocculation can be reduced by speeding up bowel transit and/or decreasing the size of the barium particles (e.g. low density barium).
History and etymology
"Flocculation" means "to form small clumps" and derives from the Latin word for "tuft" (floccus).
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