Upper GI Series

What is an upper GI series?

An upper GI series is an x-ray exam of your upper digestive tract (the area from your mouth through the first part of your small intestine). This test helps your doctor find problems such as ulcers, tumors, and certain diseases.

Before the Upper GI Series

  • No food or liquids for 6 hours prior to the procedure.
  • Report any allergies to the radiology technologist, especially those to iodine contrast (x-ray dye).
  • Women should always inform the x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation.

During the Upper GI Series Procedure

  • You will drink barium (a liquid that improves X-ray images).
  • You also may swallow “fizzies,” a substance that makes air build up in your stomach. Don’t burp, even if you feel you have to.
  • You may need to stand or lie in different positions.
  • You will be asked to hold your breath for a short time while the x-rays are taken.

Potential Risks and Complications

  • There is a slight chance that some barium could be retained, leading to a blockage of the digestive system.
  • Problems due to iodine contrast, including allergic reaction or kidney damage

After the Upper GI Series

  • Your stool may appear white or lighter than normal.
  • You may have constipation caused by the barium. You can relieve this by taking an over-the-counter laxative and drinking lots of fluids for several days after the exam. Talk with your health care provider if you have serious bowel movement problems after the test.
  • If any further questions or complications arise and you do not know what to do, please call the radiology department at Summit Healthcare at 928-537-4375, ext. 6332.
  • A report from today’s exam will be sent to your doctor within 24 hours.
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