The upper gastrointestinal (UGI) tract extends from the esophagus to the end of the small bowel. Three separate X-ray examinations may be done, either alone or in combination, to produce images of this system. The 3 exams are:
- Barium Swallow, an examination of the canal in the throat that leads from the mouth to the opening of the stomach
- Upper GI (UGI), an examination of the stomach
- Small-bowel series, an examination of the small intestine
For more information on this and other radiology procedures, please visit www.radiologyinfo.org.
If you are undergoing any or all of the Upper GI Series studies, please do not drink water, take medications, smoke, or chew gum the morning of the exam. Have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the day of your exam. If you are having a Small Bowel exam, be prepared to stay several hours in the office.
Each of the 3 exams requires drinking a contrast medium to make your organs visible on X-rays. You will be given a barium solution (a thick, chalky substance). If you are having a Barium Swallow, you will also be asked to drink an air crystal solution (similar to Alka-Seltzer).
For a Barium Swallow or Upper GI, the technologist will use a fluoroscope to watch and take images while you drink the contrast. For a Small Bowel Series examination, you'll first drink the contrast and then a technologist will periodically take films of your abdomen until the contrast has traversed the entire length of your small intestine (about 33 feet). When the contrast reaches your large intestine, the technologist will take some fluoroscopic images.
Barium Swallows and Upper GI exams take about 15 to 30 minutes. A small-bowel exam may take several hours, depending upon the speed at which the contrast moves through your small intestine. Every 15-30 minutes, a regular x-ray will be taken to follow the barium through the small bowel.
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Typically your referring physician will schedule an appointment for you. If you have been asked to schedule the appointment yourself, please have your physician's order and any pre-authorization information required by your insurance or health plan provider in hand, and call 704-512-2060.