Upper G.I./Small Bowel Series

About Your Upper G.I./Small Bowel Series

An upper G.I./small bowel series is an X-ray examination of the upper digestive tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach and small intestine, providing a detailed view of the upper digestive tract.

Preparing for the Procedure

You will be advised not to eat after midnight the evening before the exam.

Generally, the exam may not be advisable for pregnant women, or anyone who cannot remain completely still in certain positions for extended periods of time. Inform your physician if either of these conditions apply to you.

What to Expect

In preparation for the procedure, you will be asked to remove your clothes and put on a hospital gown. You will be given a liquid barium mixture to drink and then will be asked at certain intervals to swallow a substance (referred to as “fizzies”) that produces a gas in the stomach.

You then will lie on an examination table, which will be tilted, and a fluoroscope will be positioned above you, so that the body’s organs can be viewed on a screen and recorded on X-ray film.

You will be asked to turn from side to side, and to hold different positions.

You may be asked to drink additional amount of the barium mixture during the procedure, and periodically, you will be asked to hold your breath and stay perfectly still. At these times, the X-rays are being taken. The sliding and snapping sounds you will hear is the film cassette moving into place.

The upper G.I. exam usually takes less than one hour. The small bowel series takes between 30 minutes and four hours. You will need to wait until the radiologist has examined the X-rays to ensure that they are acceptable.

To help you eliminate any remaining barium, a laxative may be recommended.

After the examination is interpreted by the radiologist, a written report will be sent to your physician.

The Radiation Dose

While a generally safe procedure, it does involve radiation. As such, the benefits of having it performed should outweigh any associated radiation risks.

If you have any questions regarding your procedure, please contact our chief technologists at 732-923- 6800 or the medical physicist at 732-923-6811.

Click here for the informational brochure (pdf).