Barium Upper GI

PREPARATION REQUIRED: “NPO” from midnight the night before appointment. Specifically, this means nothing by mouth (no foods, no fluids, including water) from midnight until the exam has been finished. The stomach must be empty of all contents to be properly examined.

An upper G.I. (Gastrointestinal) Series is an x-ray and fluoroscopic study of the stomach. The esophagus is viewed for swallowing function but is not examined in detail as it would be in an Esophagram. The first portion of the small bowel is also viewed on the Upper GI Series, but not in its’ entirety.

The patient will be asked to change into a gown, removing all jewelry around the neck and any clothing having snaps, zippers, hooks, buttons, etc. Prior to beginning the study, a full size abdomen film will be taken. This is called a “scout” film, showing the abdomen before any barium has been ingested. To begin the GI Series, the table is in the upright position (fully vertical) with the patient standing on a platform attached to the table. The patient is given a small medicine cup containing “crystals” and asked to toss them into the back of the throat and wash them down with a small amount of water. These ‘crystals’ create gas in the stomach which is used as a contrast media along with barium. The patient is instructed to try and not belch. The patient is then given some barium to swallow. The Radiologist watches the swallowing on a monitor and takes several small x-rays of various portions of the esophagus and stomach as the patients drinks. The cup of barium will be taken from the patient and we will lay the table flat (horizontal) with the patient taking a “ride” with it. Then the patient will be asked to take several swallows of barium through a straw and the swallowing mechanism is again watched to see how it functions without the aid of gravity. More “spot films” of certain areas may be taken. When the Radiologist is finished with his viewing, the Technologist must take several “overhead” films of the stomach with the patient in various positions. Usually, no more barium needs to be ingested by the patient.

TOTAL TIME REQUIRED: Approximately 45 minutes to an hour.

FOLLOW-UP INFORMATION FOR THE PATIENT: In some persons barium has a tendency to cause constipation. It is recommended that the patient drink a lot of water during the 24 hours following a GI Series. If you are prone to constipation, we recommend you use whatever product you are accustomed to taking to prevent constipation. If unsure, please consult your physician or pharmacist. Additionally, expect to see stool which is lighter in color than your normal. Barium enters and leaves the body “white”. It is impossible to ascertain the time needed to eliminate all barium from your system as every person is different and times vary.


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Medical Specialty Center
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