Radiology Services : Fluoroscopy (Esophagus, Stomach, and Small Intestine) - prep

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Upper gastrointestinal x-ray studies are used to examine the esophagus, stomach, and/or small intestine. An upper GI may be ordered to evaluate symptoms such as pain, nausea, vomiting, swallowing problems, heartburn, unintended weight loss. An upper GI can diagnose a number of conditions, including ulcers, narrow areas of the GI tract, gastritis (inflammation of the stomach), hernias, abnormal growths or tumors, bulging areas in the wall of the GI tract ( diverticula), and swollen veins in the esophagus ( esophageal varices).

INSTRUCTIONS: Upper GI & SBFT : The stomach and intestine have to be totally empty before this exam. Eating, drinking, smoking and chewing gum are not allowed for the 8 hours before the test.

Esophagus and Video Swallows – no prep


You will be asked to remove your clothing and wear a hospital gown. You will be given a chalky drink which contains an x-ray contrast material ( barium). You may be asked to stand up, sit up, or lie on the x-ray table in various positions while as series of x-ray pictures are taken from a variety of angles. The whole test usually takes 60 minutes but could take longer. Delayed x-rays may be necessary to evaluate the small bowel and could take up to several hours. Your x-rays will be performed by a radiologist. Your caregiver will be sent a copy of the results. Be sure to drink plenty of water after the procedure. This helps to flush any barium from your bowels. Call your caregiver if you have any questions about your x-ray results or your treatment.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS: The most common complication after an upper GI series is constipation from the barium. Many people also feel tired and slightly nauseous from drinking the barium. Serious complications of an upper GI series are rare, but may include:

  • Bowel obstruction.
  • Allergic reaction to the barium.


  • Drink a lot of water to flush the barium from your system.
  • You may notice a sensation of bloating or some nausea.
  • Passing the barium may turn your stools light-colored or white.


  • You develop severe or lasting abdominal pain.
  • You cannot pass gas.
  • You are unable to have a bowel movement within two days.
  • You get a fever.
  • You get a skin rash.
  • You have trouble swallowing.
  • You have trouble breathing.

If you have any questions, please call our radiology department at 683-6406.

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