1. The test that has been ordered for you is an Upper GI. This test will examine your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.
  2. Do not eat or drink anything from midnight until after your test is performed the following morning. Your stomach must be empty of all contents. If medication must be taken before your appointment time, you may wish to ask your doctor if it is OK to delay your medication, or call our department for instructions.
  3. First, you will swallow some effervescent crystals (like Alka-Seltzer). This creates air in your stomach. It is important not to burp throughout the exam so that the air will remain in your stomach. Next, you will be asked to drink some barium. Barium is an inert substance, has no calories or nutritional value, and will not harm you. Both the Radiologist and technologist will take images. A Radiologist is a doctor that specializes in xray images.
  4. Following your exam, you may eat and drink normally. Drinking plenty of fluids will normally prevent constipation, but if you begin to feel constipated, take a mild laxative. The barium solution will cause your stool to appear chalky in color. This color will fade as the barium is eliminated from your digestive tract.
  5. You will receive your report from your doctor.


If a small bowel series is ordered, we will follow the barium through your entire small intestine. If you are having only a SMALL BOWEL SERIES and not an Upper GI, you will drink 2 glasses of barium, but will not swallow crystals. Films will be taken every 15-20 minutes until the barium reaches the end of the small intestine. This usually takes 2-4 hours. You may wish to bring a book.