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Upper GI and Small Bowel

Understanding Upper G.I. Exam

An upper G.I. examination is a diagnostic procedure that uses a contrast agent called barium and x-rays to obtain clear pictures of your upper gastrointestinal tract, including the esophagus, stomach and small intestine (small bowel). The upper G.I. can detect problems with your upper digestive system. This procedure helps your doctor identify these problems with minimal risk and discomfort to you.

You may pre-register on-line using Baptist Health Corbin's Express Check-In program. If you do not take advantage of the Express Check-In program, plan to arrive at the hospital 30 minutes before your scheduled exam time to complete the registration process.

To prepare for the upper G.I., you will be asked not to eat or drink anything, including chewing gum, for eight to 12 hours before the exam so your stomach and upper tract are completely empty. You may brush your teeth, but avoid swallowing any water. If you have questions about the preparation or procedure, phone your physician or  Baptist Health Corbin's diagnostic imaging department at (606) 528-1212 ext. 1142 or 1143.

The upper gastrointestinal or G.I. exam will be performed by a radiologist or a radiology physician's assistant. These individuals specialize in the study of imaged tests, such as x-rays, ultrasound, CT, etc. to assure the most accurate results from your examination.

For this exam, you will change from your clothing into a hospital gown. A technologist will gently position you on a special tilting table with a fluoroscope (an x-ray machine combined with a television monitor). You will be asked to drink a liquid barium mixture while the radiologist watches the barium flow through your digestive tract. In addition, "spot films" will be taken of the areas your doctor wants to study. You will be asked to turn and hold several positions while these spot films and larger, additional x-rays are taken.

Exam time will vary significantly, depending on the nature of the study and other factors. Average time for an upper G.I. is 30-40 minutes. If you are also scheduled for small bowel x-rays, the time will be considerably longer. For small bowel x-rays, the barium you drink is followed through 22 feet of your small intestine by taking an abdominal x-ray every 30 minutes until the barium has reached the colon. This usually takes a minimum of 60 minutes. Everyone's digestive system is different, so your study may take longer or maybe less time.

After the exam, you may be free to return to your normal activities and usual diet unless told otherwise by your physician. It is normal for the barium to give a whitish color to your stool for the next day or two.

Barium may cause constipation. You will need to increase your water intake and maybe take a mild laxative such as Milk of Magnesia. If you have trouble with constipation normally, you should consult your physician.

After your study is completed, the radiologist will interpret your films and send a written report to your physician.

Important Information:
Inform the technologist if you may be pregnant. If there is a possibility of pregnancy, a pregnancy test will be ordered before the exam.

If you have questions about your bill, please call Patient Accounts at the appropriate number listed in our phone directory. The radiologist's bill is separate from the hospital's.

For More Information

For more information on Baptist Health Corbin's diagnostic imaging services, phone (606) 528-1212 ext. 1142 or 1143.