Lower GI Series

A health care provider may order a lower GI series, an x-ray exam to look at the large intestine.

An x-ray technician performs the test at a hospital or an outpatient center, and a radiologist interprets the images. A person does not need anesthesia. The health care provider may provide written bowel prep instructions to follow at home before the test. The health care provider may ask the person to follow a clear liquid diet for 1 to 3 days before the procedure. A person may need to use a laxative or an enema before the test. A laxative is medication that loosens stool and increases bowel movements. An enema involves flushing water or laxative into the anus using a special squirt bottle.

For the test, the person will lie on a table while the health care provider inserts a flexible tube into the person’s anus. The health care provider will fill the large intestine with barium, making signs of underlying problems show up more clearly on x rays. The test can show problems with the large intestine that are causing the person’s symptoms.

Barium liquid in the GI tract causes stools to be white or light colored for several days or longer in people with intestinal pseudo-obstruction. Enemas and repeated bowel movements may cause anal soreness. A health care provider will provide specific instructions about eating and drinking after the test.