About the Scan – X-ray, Upper GI Tract

Upper gastrointestinal tract radiography, also called an upper GI, is an x-ray examination of the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine (also known as the duodenum). Images are produced using a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and an orally ingested contrast material such as barium.

In addition to drinking barium, some patients are also given baking-soda crystals (similar to Alka-Seltzer) to further improve the images. This procedure is called an air-contrast or double-contrast upper GI.

On occasion, some patients are given other forms of orally ingested contrast, usually containing iodine. These alternative contrast materials may be used if the patient has recently undergone surgery on the GI tract, or has allergies to other contrast materials. Your SMIL radiologist will determine which type of contrast material will be used.

An x-ray of the upper GI tract can help detect:

Prior to your x-ray of your upper GI tract, you will need to drink, which will then pass into your digestive tract. Once the upper GI tract is adequately coated with the barium, still x-ray images will be taken and stored for further review.

When the examination is complete, you will be asked to wait until the radiologist determines that all the necessary images have been obtained. This exam is usually completed within 20 minutes.

Learn how to prepare for the scan in the x-ray, upper GI tract section.

Find out if this procedure is right for you in the benefits and risks of x-ray, upper GI tract section.

For a downloadable/printable PDF about this exam with preparation instructions click here.

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