Upper gastrointestinal tract radiography, also called an upper GI, is an x-ray examination of the esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine (also known as the duodenum). Images are produced using a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and an orally ingested contrast material such as barium.
Fluoroscopy makes it possible to see internal organs in motion. When the upper GI tract is coated with barium, the radiologist is able to view and assess the anatomy and function of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.
An x-ray examination that evaluates only the pharynx and esophagus is called a barium swallow.
In addition to drinking barium, some patients are also given baking-soda crystals to further improve the images. This procedure is called an air-contrast or double-contrast upper GI.
Why should I do it ?
An upper GI examination helps evaluate digestive function and can detect:
- Inflammation of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum
- Hiatal hernias
- Abnormalities of the muscular wall of GI tract
Any preparations needed?
- You should inform your physician of any medications you are taking and if you have any allergies
- 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.
- Your doctor will likely ask you not to eat or drink anything (including any medications taken by mouth, especially antacids) after midnight on the day of the Examination.
- You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes during the exam.
- You may be asked to remove jewelry, removable dental appliances, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images.