Upper Gastrointestinal (UGI) Series
How It Is Done
A UGI series is usually done in a clinic or the X-ray department of a hospital. You do not need to
stay overnight in the hospital. The test is done by a
radiologist and a radiology technologist.
You will need to take off your clothes and put on a hospital gown. You
will need to take out any dentures and take off any jewelry. You may not smoke
or chew gum during the test, since the stomach will respond by making more
gastric juices and this will slow the movement of the barium through the
You will lie on your back on an X-ray table. The table
is tilted to bring you to an upright position with the X-ray machine in front
of you. Straps may be used to keep you safely on the table. The technologist
will make sure you are comfortable during changes in table position.
You will have one X-ray taken before you drink the barium mix. Then you
will take small swallows repeatedly during the series of X-rays that follow.
The radiologist will tell you when and how much to drink. By the end of the
test, you may have swallowed
1 cup (240 mL) to
2.5 cup (600 mL) of the barium
mixture. See a picture of a
barium swallow test .
The radiologist watches the barium pass
through your gastrointestinal tract using fluoroscopy and X-ray pictures. The
table is tilted at different positions and you may change positions to help
spread the barium. Some gentle pressure is put on your belly with a belt or by
the technologist's gloved hand. You may be asked to cough so that the
radiologist can see how that changes the barium flow. See an image of a
barium swallow .
If you are having an air-contrast study, you will
sip the barium liquid through a straw with a hole in it or take pills that make
gas in your stomach. The air or gas that you take in helps show the lining of
the stomach and intestines in greater detail.
If you are also
having a small bowel study, the radiologist watches as the barium passes
through your small intestine into your large intestine. X-ray pictures are
taken every 30 minutes.
The UGI series takes 30 to 40 minutes. The UGI
series with a small bowel study takes 2 to 6 hours. In some cases, you may be
asked to return after 24 hours to have more X-ray pictures taken.
When the UGI series is done, you may eat and drink whatever you like,
unless your doctor tells you not to.
You may be given a laxative
enema to flush the barium out of your intestines after
the test to prevent constipation. Drink a lot of fluids for a few days to flush
out the barium.