Upper Gastrointestinal Series

This is a series of x-rays of the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum. Together, the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum are called the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, or upper digestive system. The x-rays are taken during and after drinking a chemical called barium . The barium solution is a thick, white, chalky, milkshake-like liquid. It coats the inside lining of your GI tract. This makes the GI tract show up better on the x-ray.

  • Call Your Doctor

    After the test, call your doctor if any of the following occur:

    • Constipation that lasts for more than a few days after the test
    • Abdominal pain or bloating
    • Vomiting
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Trouble breathing or cough

  • Definition


    This is a series of
    x-rays
    of the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum. Together, the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum are called the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, or upper digestive system.
    The x-rays are taken during and after drinking a
    chemical called
    barium
    . The barium solution is a thick, white, chalky, milkshake-like liquid. It coats the inside lining of your GI tract. This makes the GI tract show up better on the x-ray.

    Upper Digestive System
    Upper GI stomach duodenum
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Test

    An upper GI series may be done if you have:

    • Diarrhea
    • Weight loss
    • Abdominal pain
    • Trouble swallowing
    • Regurgitation—when food and fluids flow back up from your stomach toward your mouth
    • Rectal bleeding
    • Bloody stools or black, tarry stools
    • Bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds

    An upper GI series can help detect:

    • Ulcers
    • Blockage
    • Abnormal growths or tumors
    • Diverticula
      —abnormal pouches in the wall of your gut
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
      —when acid from the stomach moves up into your throat
    • Hiatal hernia
      —when the upper part of the stomach moves up through a small opening in the muscular wall that separates the abdominal cavity from the chest cavity

  • Possible Complications

    Some people may have an allergic reaction to the barium or have difficulty keeping it down.