An upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series
looks at the upper and middle sections of the
gastrointestinal tract. Results are usually ready in 1
to 3 days.
Upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series
The esophagus, stomach, and small intestine
all look normal.
A narrowing (stricture), inflammation, a
hiatal hernia, or enlarged veins (varices) may be
seen. Spasms of the esophagus or a backward flow (reflux) of barium from the
stomach may occur.
The UGI series may show a stomach (gastric)
or intestinal (duodenal)
ulcer, a tumor, or something pushing on the intestines
from outside the gastrointestinal tract. Narrowing of the opening between the
stomach and the small intestine (pyloric stenosis) may be seen.
The small bowel follow-through may show
inflammation or changes in the lining that may explain poor absorption of food.
This may be caused by
Crohn's disease or
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
Eating before or during the
Too much air in the small intestine.
What To Think About
A gastrointestinal (GI) motility study may be
done if the squeezing motions of the small intestine are not normal during the
UGI series and small bowel follow-through. The movement of the barium through
the lower intestinal tract is recorded every few hours for up to 24 hours. A
barium enema or
colonoscopy may be needed to confirm the
Upper endoscopy is done instead of a UGI test in
certain cases. Endoscopy uses a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) to look at the
lining of the esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine (duodenum). For
more information, see the medical test
Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
Cannot show irritation of the stomach
lining (gastritis) or esophagus (esophagitis) or ulcers that are smaller than
about 0.25 in. (6 mm) in
Cannot show an infection with the bacteria
Helicobacter pylori, which may
be a cause of stomach ulcers.
biopsy cannot be done during the UGI if a problem is
Other Works Consulted
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis:
Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009).
Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby?s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.