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Upper GI Series

An upper GI exam is an x-ray of the upper portion of your digestive tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. A contrast agent called barium is used to outline and define the folds of the intestinal tract. An upper GI series is performed by a radiologist who is assisted by a radiological technologist. The equipment used to track the barium as it moves through your system is called a fluoroscope.

Upper GI

What to Expect

This exam requires that you remove your clothing and wear a gown. You will be given a cup containing a liquid barium mixture to drink before and during the exam. Using the fluoroscope, the radiologist can follow the barium through your digestive system. From time to time you will be asked to hold different positions and move from side to side. While you wait, the radiologist will examine the images to make sure they contain the information needed to obtain a proper diagnosis. On some occasions more x-rays may be needed for the radiologist to review.


After midnight the night before the examination, you may not take anything by mouth (food or fluids). This includes no smoking, gum chewing or water. Do not eat breakfast. After the exam we suggest you drink plenty of fluids to rinse out the barium. Fruit juices are recommended if allowed by your diet.

How Long Will it Take?

You should plan to be at the X-Ray office for at least two hours for a small bowel exam.
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