Small Bowel Follow Through

Upper GI and Small Bowel Series

How is the procedure performed?

An upper GI and small bowel series is an X-ray procedure to examine the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine.

How the Test is Performed?

Before the x-rays are taken, you must drink 16 – 20 ounces of a milkshake-like drink that contains a substance called barium, which shows up well on x-rays.
An x-ray method called fluoroscopy tracks how the barium moves through your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Pictures are taken with you in a variety of positions. You may be sitting or standing.
The test usually takes around 3 hours. However, in some cases, it may take up to 6 hours to complete.

How to Prepare for the Test?

Usually, you cannot eat for a period of time before the test. You will be asked to remove all jewelry on your neck, chest, or abdomen before the test.

How the Test Will Feel

The x-ray may cause mild bloating but usually causes no discomfort. The barium milkshake feels chalky as you drink it.

Why the Test is Performed?

This test is done to determine if you have a structural or functional problem in the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine.

What Abnormal Results Mean?

In the esophagus, abnormal results may mean one of the following:
▪ Achalasia
▪ Diverticula
▪ Esophageal abnormalities
▪ Hiatal hernias
▪ Ulcers

In the stomach, abnormal results may mean:
▪ Gastric cancer
▪ Gastric ulcers- benign
▪ Gastritis
▪ Polyps
▪ Pyloric stenosis (narrowing)
In the small intestines, the test may reveal:
▪ Malabsorption syndrome
▪ Swelling and irritation of the small intestines
▪ Tumors
▪ Ulcers