Upper Gastrointestinal Series
(Upper GI Series; Barium Swallow; Barium Meal)
|Upper Digestive System|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
Reasons for Test
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Regurgitation—when food and fluids flow back up from your stomach toward your mouth
- Rectal bleeding
- Bloody stools or black, tarry stools
- Bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
- Abnormal growths or tumors
- Diverticula—abnormal pouches in the wall of your gut
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) —when acid from the stomach moves up into your throat
- Hiatal hernia—when the upper part of the stomach moves up through a small opening in the muscular wall that separates the abdominal cavity from the chest cavity
What to Expect
Prior to Test
- As with all x-ray tests, make sure you let your doctor know if you are pregnant.
- Talk to your doctor about the medication you are taking. They may need to be adjusted before the test.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke for at least 8 hours before the test.
- You may be given a medication called glucagon . This will slow down the activity of the stomach and small intestine.
- You may be asked to swallow baking soda crystals. These crystals will bubble and make gas in your stomach, allowing for x-rays that are more detailed.
- If the doctor wants to look at lower parts of your intestine, you may need to take a laxative the day before your exam. This will clean out your intestine.
Description of Test
After the Test
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
Call Your Doctor
- Constipation that lasts for more than a few days after the test
- Abdominal pain or bloating
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Trouble breathing or cough
Gastro—American Gastroenterological Association http://www.gastro.org
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse http://www.niddk.nih.gov
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology http://www.cag-acg.org
Radiology for Patients http://www.radiology-info.org
Patient prep & instruction manual. Scheduled test: upper GI series. Penn Medicine website. Available at: http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/radiology/patient/docs/Upper%5FGI%5FSeries.pdf. Accessed May 22, 2013.
Upper GI series. National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/diagnostic-tests/upper-gi-series/Pages/diagnostic-test.aspx. Updated April 23, 2012. Accessed May 22, 2013.
- Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
- Review Date: 02/2015 -
- Update Date: 05/07/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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