Upper GI Series

A health care provider may order an upper GI series to look at the small intestine.

An x-ray technician performs the test at a hospital or an outpatient center, and a radiologist interprets the images; the health care provider may give infants and children anesthesia. A person should not eat or drink for 8 hours before the procedure, if possible. During the procedure, the person will stand or sit in front of an x-ray machine and drink barium, a chalky liquid. Infants lie on a table and the technician will give them barium through a tiny tube placed in the nose that runs into the stomach. Barium coats the lining of the small intestine, making signs of obstruction show up more clearly on x rays.

A person may experience bloating and nausea for a short time after the test. 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. A health care provider will give the person specific instructions about eating and drinking after the test.