gastrointestinal (UGI) series looks at the upper and middle sections of the
gastrointestinal tract . The test uses
barium contrast material,
X-ray. Before the test, you drink a mix of barium
(barium contrast material) and water. The barium is often combined with
gas-making crystals. Your doctor watches the movement of the barium through
your esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum ) on a video screen. Several X-ray pictures
are taken at different times and from different views.
bowel follow-through may be done immediately after a UGI to look at the rest of
the small intestine. If just the throat and esophagus are looked at, it is
called an esophagram (or barium swallow). See
barium swallow images .
Upper endoscopy is done instead of a UGI
in certain cases. Endoscopy uses a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) to look at
the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine
Why It Is Done
An upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series
is done to:
- Find the cause of gastrointestinal symptoms,
such as trouble swallowing, vomiting, burping up food, belly pain (including
a burning or gnawing pain in the center of the stomach), or indigestion.
- Find narrow spots
(strictures) in the upper intestinal tract,
- Find inflamed areas of
malabsorption syndrome, or problems with the squeezing
motion that moves food through the intestines (motility
- Find swallowed objects.
Generally, a UGI series is not used if you do not have
symptoms of a gastrointestinal problem. A UGI series is done most often for people who have:
- A hard time swallowing.
- A possible blocked
- Belly pain that is relieved or gets worse while eating.
- Severe heartburn or heartburn that occurs often.
How To Prepare
Tell your doctor if you:
- Are taking any medicine.
allergic to any medicines, barium, or any other X-ray contrast
- Are or might be pregnant. This test is not done during
pregnancy because of the risk of radiation to the developing baby (fetus).
You may be asked to eat a low-fiber diet for 2 or 3 days
before the test. You may also be asked to stop eating for 12 hours before the
test. Your doctor will tell you if you need to stop taking certain medicines
before the test.
The evening before the test, you may be asked to
take a laxative to help clean out your intestines. If your stomach can't empty
well on its own, you may have a special tube put through your nose and down
into your stomach just before the test begins. A gentle suction on the tube
will drain the stomach contents.
If you are having the small bowel
follow-through after the UGI series, you will need to wait between X-rays. The
entire small bowel follow-through exam takes up to 6 hours, so bring along a
book to read or some other quiet activity.
You may be asked to
sign a consent form. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding
the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will
mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).