Upper GI with Additional Dye and Small Intestine X-ray

This special X-ray creates detailed images of the esophagus (also known as the food pipe), stomach and the entire small intestine (duodenum).

This special X-ray creates detailed images of the esophagus (also known as the food pipe), stomach and the entire small intestine (duodenum).

An upper GI (UGI) with small bowel X-rays is a special set of X-rays that are taken after you swallow a dye called barium. The barium helps create detailed images of the:

  • The esophagus, a muscular tube that connects the pharynx to the stomach. It is often called the food pipe.
  • The stomach, which is where most of the food we eat is digested.
  • The small intestine (duodenum), where partially digested food goes after it leaves the stomach.

An UGI with small intestine X-rays also includes several X-rays of the entire small intestine.

With this UGI, images are taken after you swallow two types of contrast. This is known as an air-contrast or double-contrast upper GI series.

  • One of the two dyes is the barium sulfate.
  • The other dye is known as baking soda crystals. The crystals improve the images by creating air in the GI tract.

Your health care provider may order an upper GI series with X-rays of your small intestine to determine the cause of:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Blood in your vomit or stool
  • Chronic indigestion

UGIs are not ordered as often as they use to be.

  • Newer tests allow a healthcare provider to see problems in the UGI tract more directly.
  • An endoscopy is an example of a newer test that provides a direct view of the UGI tract.

Tell the technician if you are, or could be, pregnant. The exposure from a single X-ray has not been associated with harmful effects to an unborn baby, but precautions should be taken.

  • In some cases, other imaging studies may be appropriate (such as an ultrasound or MRI).
  • The technician may ask you to move into other positions, so he or she can take different images.
  • Otherwise, you will need to stay still during the test, so the technician can take a clear image.

Prior to the procedure, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions you should follow before the procedure. These may include:

  • Medications you should not take before the procedure
  • Regular medications you should take on the day of your procedure
  • How many hours you should stop eating and drinking before the procedure

Your healthcare provider may give you suggestions on ways you can prevent constipation after the use of barium. These can include fluids and a mild laxative.

The costs for this test include the charge for the test (facility charge) and physician charges (for performing or interpreting the test). You may get separate bills from the facility and the physician's office.

What should I ask my health care provider before having this test?

  • Is there any special preparation for the test? (If so, get clear steps to follow.)
  • What is the reason for this particular test? Are the test results likely to change my treatment plan? If not, why do I need the test?
  • Why do I need to have the UGI done with X-rays of my entire small intestines?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • What are the possible risks/complications?
  • How will I feel after the procedure? Do I need to take a laxative after the test? Which one would you recommend?
  • What other procedures may be alternatives to this x-ray? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each procedure?

After your upper GI series, your healthcare provider should provide a description of any problems found during the procedure and what symptoms you should report. You should also understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects) and follow-up plans.

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Small Intestine X-ray
Small Intestine Xray
Intestine X-ray
Intestine Xray

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