How is an Upper GI Series done?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Jan 17, 2013

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An upper GI series is conducted by a radiology technologist or a radiologist—a doctor who specializes in x–ray imaging—at a hospital or outpatient center.


While sitting or standing in front of an x–ray machine, the patient drinks barium liquid, which is often white and has a chalky consistency and taste. The barium liquid coats the lining of the upper GI tract and makes signs of disease show up more clearly on x rays. X-ray video, called fluoroscopy, is used to view the barium liquid moving through the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.


Additional x rays and fluoroscopy are performed while the patient lies on an x-ray table. To fully coat the upper GI tract with barium liquid, the technologist or radiologist may press on the abdomen or ask the patient to change position. Patients hold still in various positions, allowing the technologist or radiologist to take x rays of the upper GI tract at different angles. If a technologist conducts the upper GI series, a radiologist will later examine the images to look for problems.


What is a double contrast study?


The double contrast study gets its name from the combination of air and liquid barium working together to create a more detailed view of the stomach lining. The patient swallows gas-forming crystals, which are activated when they mix with the barium liquid. The gas expands the barium-coated stomach, exposing finer details of the stomach lining, and additional x rays are taken.



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