Upper GI Series

An upper GI series is an X-ray exam of your upper digestive tract, the area from your mouth to the start of your small intestine. This test helps your doctor find problems such as ulcers, tumors, and certain diseases.

Man lying on back on table under X-ray machine. Health care provider is preparing for X-ray.

How do I get ready for an upper GI series?

  • Stop eating and drinking 8 hours before your test.

  • Be sure to mention the medicines you take and ask if it’s OK to take them before your test.

  • Do not smoke the morning of the test.

  • The test usually takes about 30 minutes. Allow extra time to check in.

Let the technologist know

Tell the technologist if:

  • You have any allergies

  • You ate or drank within the last 8 hours

  • You’re pregnant or think you may be

  • You’ve had any previous surgery

  • You take any medicines

What happens during an upper GI series? 

  • 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 during the X-ray.

What happens after an 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. 

  • Your doctor will discuss the test results with you during a follow-up appointment or over the phone.

  • Your next appointment is:__________________


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