Gastrointestinal & Small Bowel X-ray

What to expect

What is a G.I. series?
A G.I. (Gastrointestinal) Series is a series of x-ray pictures to show the outline and activity of the stomach.

How do I get ready for the test?
You should not eat or drink anything after midnight before your test the next morning. Your stomach must be completely empty because some condition might be hidden by food. You may brush your teeth, but do not swallow any of the water. Do not smoke or chew gum because doing so will cause unnecessary stomach juices to flow.

Where is the G.I. test done?
Inpatients will be tested in the X-ray Department at the hospital.

Outpatients will report to the Outpatient Registration Center. When registration is completed, you will be shown where to go for your test. You will be given a gown to wear. You may be asked to swallow small white granules, which act like Alka-Seltzer. They will cause gas, but try not to burp until the test is over. Next you will probably be given two ounces of thick barium (white chalky liquid) to drink. As you turn in different positions on the table, the barium will "coat" your stomach. Then, you will be given some thin barium to drink. The Radiologist will watch you swallow and will examine your stomach. He will ask you to hold your breath at various times. According to your individual needs, you might receive a slightly different mixture of the barium.

Is this all of the test?
Yes, unless the doctor has ordered a "Small Bowel X-ray" also. The small bowel is the section of the digestive tract between the stomach and the large intestine.

What do I do for the small bowel test?
In this test you will be given more barium to drink. X-rays films will be made at intervals to follow the progress of the barium through the small bowel. The examination will not be complete until the barium fills the entire small bowel, and it is 25 feet in length! Sometimes this can take several hours.

How long will it take for this test?
Each patient is treated individually according to the time required to fill and x-ray the stomach.

What happens after I have finished?
Your routine diet and medications may be resumed, if you do not have other tests scheduled for the day. (If you are a patient in the hospital ask your nurse before eating or drinking on your return to the unit.) Be sure to encourage extra fluids to help flush the barium out of your system. The radiologist (a specialist who reads and diagnosis x-rays) will study and review your films. A written report will be sent to your doctor who will report the findings to you.

Some patients report constipation after drinking the barium for this test. If you have a tendency for this problem, you might request that your doctor order a mild laxative.


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