Upper GI Series
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This page is for information purposes only. For advice and specific questions please contact your primary care or referring physician.
An Upper GI series is an X-ray examination of your upper gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and the first portion of the small bowel (intestine).
In a study with a small bowel series the remainder of the small intestine is also studied. During the procedure the patient drinks barium that fills and coats the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and intestine. This examination is usually performed for patients who experience heartburn, abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding or weight loss.
Your stomach must be completely empty for this examination. You will be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your examination. View the full prep sheet.
Infants and young children should not eat or drink three to four hours prior to the exam and newborns should fast no more than two to three hours prior to the study. Any specific concerns or questions should be under the advice from the patient's physician.
- You will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
- Inside the X-ray room you will be asked to stand on the X-ray equipment platform.
- You will be asked to drink a liquid barium. As you drink the barium, the radiologist will take a series of films.
- You will be asked to swallow some fizzy crystals that are dissolved in water. This might make you feel like burping, but try not to.
- The X-ray table will then be tilted down. You will be asked to drink more barium through a straw and another series of films will be taken.
- At this point, if you are only having an Upper GI, once the technologist takes a series of films, your examination is over.
- If you are also having a small bowel series, the films will be delayed until the barium reaches the colon. This can take from one to four hours. You should drink extra fluids for the next one to two days to help the barium pass through your colon.
Your films will be read by a radiologist who will send a report to your physician.
If you are of child bearing age and think there is any possibility of pregnancy it is important that you inform the physician ordering these x-rays and tell the technologist taking your x-rays. If you have any known allergies to contrast, iodine, or foods please inform your physician BEFORE proceeding with any of the instructions that follow.