Upper Gastrointestinal Series
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings
Answers

What are Upper Gastrointestinal Series?

This is a series of x-rays of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). 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 Digestive System
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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 "coffee-ground" vomit

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 —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

Call Your Doctor

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

  • Constipation 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
 
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