University of Iowa Department of Radiology
Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed
Creation Date: March 1987
Last Revision Date: March 1987
Upper Gastrointestinal Series
This is an X-ray examination of the esophagus and stomach, done by a radiologist, a doctor specializing in medical diagnosis using X-rays. Barium is used to coat the stomach wall so it may be examined under X-ray.
Preparation for the Exam
For the exam to be successful, your stomach must be empty. For this reason, you must not eat or drink anything after midnight on the morning before the X-rays.
You will be asked to remove your clothing and wear a gown. You will be positioned behind a piece of equipment called a fluoroscope. A cup containing liquid barium will be given to you to drink. Following the barium you will be given baking soda crystals that will create gas in your stomach. It is important not to belch, as the gas assists the doctor in evaluating your stomach. You will be asked to roll in different positions and to hold your breath so X-rays can be taken. After the radiologist has taken X-rays of selected areas, the radiologic technologist will take X-rays of your entire upper digestive tract (stomach, esophagus, etc.) with another piece of equipment.
After the Exam
You will be asked to wait while the radiologist reviews the films to make sure they contain all the necessary information. Occasionally more films may be required.
When no other films are needed, you may resume your regular diet unless you are told otherwise by your doctor.
It would be beneficial to take a laxative and drink plenty of fluids after the exam. The barium may color your stools slightly whitish for the next day or two.
If you have any concerns following your examination, please contact your physician.