Upper GI Series

Your doctor has requested a procedure called an upper GI. This exam is performed to assess frequent heartburn or stomach pain, or if your doctor suspects an ulcer or gastric reflux (food or acid coming back up your esophagus, or swallowing tube). Richard Sukov, MD, FACR, chief of Gastrointestinal Radiology at Cedars-Sinai, leads a team of physicians, nurses and technologists who specialize in these procedures.

Before Your Exam

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

During Your Exam

  • The technologist will explain your procedure and answer any questions you may have prior to 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 better visualization of the stomach.
  • Additionally, you will be asked to drink at least one cup of liquid barium 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 from side to side while taking pictures of your digestive tract.
  • After the imaging physician has completed the initial imaging, the technologist will take an additional series of X-rays of your stomach and abdomen.
  • The physician will review the pictures to determine if they are sufficient to make a diagnosis. If not, more pictures may be taken.
  • Your procedure will take approximately 30 minutes. This may be longer if more pictures must be taken.

After Your Exam

  • 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