An upper GI or Gastrointestinal Series is an x-ray exam of the esophagus, stomach and the duodenum (first part of the small intestine). This exam requires you to drink barium, which is a type of contrast that allows us to see the anatomy of you upper digestive tract. There are a few modifications of this exam, some require you to drink thin barium, and others require you to drink thick barium, along with small gas granules that produce air in your stomach to further outline you digestive tract.
It is important that you do not eat or drink anything from midnight before you exam. Any food or liquid in your stomach can affect the results of the exam. You may not eat or drink anything the morning of your exam, however, if you are taking any medications, you may take them with a small amount of water. If you are diabetic, please consult with your doctor regarding any medications or instructions before your exam.
Your appointment will be scheduled ahead of time by the hospitalês booking office. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your exam, as you will be required to register and also visit our billing office. Please keep in mind that our hospital is a Level 1 Trauma Center and emergencies often arise beyond our control. Occasionally this may delay the start of your exam. Another thing to be aware of is that we have many x-ray rooms in our department, and certain exams may only be performed in certain rooms. The order in which you arrive in our department may not necessarily be the order in which you are taken into an exam room due to room availability.
You will be escorted into one of our exam rooms by a radiologic technologist and asked t o change into a hospital gown. If you prefer, you may wear sweatpants and a sweatshirt/tee-shirt that do not have buttons, zippers, or snaps on them for your comfort. A plain x-ray of your abdomen, called a "scout film" will be taken prior to your exam. This x-ray will show us your basic anatomy, and ensure that there is nothing on your clothing or jewelry that will obscure our films. This also tells us if you followed the preparation required for your exam. A radiologist will enter the exam room and get a brief history from you so that he/she can better perform your exam. You will be required to swallow a barium drink and gas granules in various positions on the x-ray table while the radiologist uses a special x-ray camera called a fluoroscope. This fluoroscope is connected to a TV screen, and it allows the radiologist to see your anatomy and take any necessary x-ray pictures to make an accurate diagnosis. The time required for this exam is typically 30 to 45 minutes.
You may eat and drink immediately following your exam. It is important that you drink plenty of liquids following your exam to avoid constipation from the barium.
The results of your exam will be sent to your doctor and he/she will receive them usually within 24 hours. The radiologist is not required to communicate results to you personally. Keep in mind that the morning in our department is a busy time for the radiologist, and he/she will be performing many of these exams, one right after another. The afternoon is when your films will be thoroughly reviewed, a diagnosis will be made, and a report will be sent to your doctor.