Upper GI with Small Bowel Exam

Your doctor has requested pictures of your stomach and your intestine (upper GI with small bowel examination). This exam is performed to assess problems not explained by an upper GI or barium enema. At the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center we have a team of imaging physicians, nurses and technologists led by Richard Sukov, MD, FACR, chief, Gastrointestinal Radiology, who specialize in gastrointestinal procedures and who will be performing your exam and interpreting the results.

Before Your Procedure

  • For a satisfactory exam, your stomach and intestine must be empty. It is important that you do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your exam.
  • Additionally, do not use gum, mints or cigarettes after midnight the night before your exam.
  • If your doctor gave you an order, please bring it with you.
  • We want to make any time you have to wait as pleasant as possible. Please consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass the time.

During Your Procedure

  • The technologist will explain your procedure and answer any questions you may have before  your exam.
  • You will be asked to change into a gown and to lie on the exam table on your back with your arms at your side.
  • The technologist will take a "scout" film to make sure that your stomach and upper intestines are clean.
  • The imaging physician will review your scout film, then begin your exam.
  • Your exam will be performed on a tilting table that will allow the procedure to be performed with you standing and lying down.
  • You will be asked to swallow effervescent granules (gas forming crystals) to create gas in your stomach for a better look at your stomach.
  • You will be asked to drink at least one cup of liquid barium (thick, white fluid) while the imaging physician watches the flow of that material with a fluoroscope (an X-ray unit combined with a television screen).
  • The imaging physician will ask you to turn in different positions while taking pictures of your stomach and small bowel.
  • After the imaging physician has completed the initial imaging, the technologist will take more X-rays of your stomach and small bowel.
  • Following the initial Upper GI study, you will be asked to drink at least one additional cup of liquid barium.
  • Images of your abdomen will be taken every 30 minutes until the barium has traveled through your small bowel to your colon (large bowel).
  • Your procedure will take approximately two to four hours; however, the barium will flow at different speeds in different people. For some, the process of it traveling from the mouth to the colon will take longer, and this will lengthen the time of the procedure.

After Your Procedure

  • Drink plenty of liquid for 24 to 48 hours.
  • The barium may make your stool white for several days.
  • If you experience constipation, your physician may recommend a mild laxative.
  • Your study will be read by the imaging physician and results sent to your physician, usually within 48 hours. Your physician will discuss these results with you and explain what they mean in relation to your health.
For more information or to schedule an appointment