Skip to content

    Crohn's Disease Health Center

    Font Size

    X-Ray Exams of the Digestive Tract

    Colonoscopy is usually the preferred test to examine the digestive tract. However, there are several commonly performed X-ray tests that allow your doctor to examine your digestive tract from the esophagus to the rectum.

    These tests utilize barium or an iodine-containing agent that allows visualization of the digestive tract and a form of X-ray machine called fluoroscopy. Fluoroscopy allows part of the body to be studied in motion and recorded on a video monitor.

    Recommended Related to Crohn's Disease

    Drugs That Calm Crohn's Inflammation

    When you have Crohn's disease, you have two main goals: Prevent flare-ups Keep them away for good As a first step, your doctor may start you on drugs that slow inflammation. Although they aren't a cure, they can help you feel much better. Inflammation in your intestines causes symptoms like stomach pain and diarrhea. Anti-inflammatory drugs eases them and may even keep them away for years. Your doctor will help you decide which one is best for you.

    Read the Drugs That Calm Crohn's Inflammation article > >

    Fluoroscopic examinations of your GI tract may be performed in a doctor's office, a commercial X-ray facility, or a hospital. These tests are called an "upper GI" or "lower GI," depending on the organs being examined.

    Upper GI Tests

    Upper GI tests use X-rays to examine the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine (the duodenum).

    For these tests, you need to drink barium. As the barium passes through the digestive tract, it fills and coats the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine, making them more visible with X-ray. Then a fluoroscope machine is held over the part of the body being examined and transmits continuous images to a video monitor.

    This upper GI test is used to diagnose:

    • Hiatal hernias
    • Ulcers
    • Tumors
    • Esophageal varices
    • Obstruction or narrowing of the upper GI tract

    It may also be used to determine the cause of:

    There are several types of tests used to view the upper GI tract, including:

    • Barium swallow. This is an X-ray test that examines how food moves down the esophagus to the stomach. Approximate time: 30 minutes.
    • Modified barium swallow. This test looks at the beginning of swallowing from the mouth to the pharynx and down to the esophagus. Approximate time: 30 minutes to 1 hour.
    • Upper GI series. This is an X-ray examination of the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine. Approximate time: 30-45 minutes.
    • Small bowel series. This is an X-ray examination of the small intestine (small bowel). Approximate time: 2 to 4 hours, depending upon how long it takes for the barium to reach the colon.
    1 | 2 | 3 | 4

    Today on WebMD

    butter curls
    Foods to avoid.
    woman with pains in abdomen
    Get personalized tips.
    graphic of esophageal area
    Is it genetics, your immune system, or something else?
    Woman suffering from IBD
    Learn about Crohn’s, colitis, and more.
    Treatment Options For Crohns Disease
    butter curls
    crohns disease healthcheck
    capsules in hand
    Trigger Foods To Avoid With Crohns
    Exercising When You Have A GI Disorder
    Newly Diagnosed With Crohns Steps To Take
    When Surgery Might Be Required For Crohns