Upper GI Tract X-ray

Is an examination of the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine (also known as the duodenum). It is safe, noninvasive, and may be used to help accurately diagnose pain, acid reflux, blood in the stool and other symptoms.

Parameters defined during the test

  • The shape, volume  and contours of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum
  • Stomach location (anatomical position)
  • Contrast agent passage in food channel
  • Reflux of contrast into the upper parts of the digestive tract
  • The output of the contrast beyond the boundaries of the hollow organ
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest and abdominal pain
  • Reflux (a backward flow of partially digested food and digestive juices)
  • Vomiting
  • Severe indigestion
  • Blood in the stool (indicating internal gi bleeding)
  • Black stool

Your physician will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for your upper GI.

You should inform your physician of any medications being taken and if there are any allergies, especially to iodinated contrast materials. Also inform your doctor about recent illnesses or other medical conditions.

Women should always inform their physician and x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation. If an x-ray is necessary, precautions will be taken to minimize radiation exposure to the baby. 

To ensure the best possible image quality, your stomach must be empty of food. Therefore, your doctor will likely ask you not to eat or drink anything (including any medications taken by mouth, especially antacids) and to refrain from chewing gum after midnight on the day of the examination.

You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, removable dental appliances, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images.

How the procedure is performed

For these tests, you need to drink barium. As the barium passes through the digestive tract, it fills and coats the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine, making them more visible with X-ray. Then a fluoroscope machine is held over the part of the body being examined and transmits continuous images to a video monitor.

When the examination is complete, you may be asked to wait until the radiologist determines that all the necessary images have been obtained.

This exam is usually completed within 20 minutes.

  • Upper GI tract X-ray is performed on an empty stomach. Avoid having meal or drink for 8-10 hours.
  • For 3 days prior to exam exclude foods that cause flatulence (beans, brown bread, fatty, fried, smoked foods, fruits, vegetables). You can have low-fat boiled meat (chicken, beef), lean fish, white stale bread, water porridge, eggs.
  • Do a cleansing enema if you have constipation.
  • Before the procedure remove jewelry and dentures.

 Abnormalities determined by Upper GI Tract X-ray

  • Ulcers
  • tumors
  • Inflammation of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum
  • Diverticula
  • Gastroesophageal and duodenogastric reflux
  • Gastrostasis
  • Ventroptosia
  • Duodenostasis
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Perforation of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum
  • The presence of foreign bodies
  • The first trimester of pregnancy
  • Critical conditionof the patient
  • Ongoing stomach bleeding

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