Barium impregnated polyethylene spheres (BIPS) are used in small animal medicine as an alternative to barium sulfate for radiographic studies of the gastrointestinal tract. To determine the usefulness of BIPS as an alternative to barium suspension in measuring gastrointestinal (GI) transit time for avian species, ventrodorsal radiographs were used to follow the passage of BIPS and 30% barium sulfate suspension through the GI tracts of domestic pigeons (Columba livia). Gastrointestinal transit times of thirty 1.5-mm BIPS administered in moistened gelatin capsules and 30% barium sulfate suspension gavaged into the crop were compared in 6 pigeons. Although the barium suspension passed out of the GI tract of all pigeons within 24 hours, the 1.5-mm BIPS remained in the ventriculus for 368.0 ± 176.8 hours and did not clear the GI tract for 424.0 ± 204.6 hours. Although the times for passage of BIPS and 30% barium sulfate suspension from the crop into the ventriculus were not significantly different (P = .14), the times for passage of BIPS from the ventriculus into the large intestine-cloaca and for clearance from the GI tract of the pigeons were significantly longer (P < .001) than for the 30% barium sulfate suspension. From the results of this study, we conclude that BIPS are not useful for radiographically evaluating GI transit times in pigeons and are unlikely to be useful in other avian species that have a muscular ventriculus. BIPS may or may not be useful for evaluating GI transit times in species that lack a muscular ventriculus.
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