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Upper GI series

What is an upper GI series?

An inside view of the upper gastrointestinal track, or your food pipe, stomach and intestines.

Why does my child need the test?

This test will help us understand the presence or absence, nature or extent of disease affecting the esophagus/food pipe and stomach. Imaging from Upper GI studies can reveal abnormalities related to:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Uncontrolled vomiting
  • Reflux
  • Post operational complications

How to prepare for the test

  • No food or drink except clear liquids 2-6 hours prior to your child's exam depending on their age
  • Please arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time
  • Parent/guardian needs to bring a picture ID and insurance information

What will happen during the test?

The test will take about 1 – 2 hours. Depending on the child's age, a child life specialist will help provide an age-appropriate explanation of the test as well as a little fun and distraction.

The test will include the following steps:   

  • They will change into a hospital gown
  • We’ll take an X-ray of the abdomen (lower belly)
  • They will lay down on a special table while you drink contrast
  • The fluoroscopy X-ray machine will take special pictures of the esophagus, stomach and intestines
  • They will be asked to move in a few different directions so we can get different images while they are drinking
  • The test will be over and they can change back into clothes

How soon can my child return to normal activity?

Your child can return to normal activity, eat and drink after the test unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Unless your doctor asks for them to limit fluids, they should drink more fluids than normal to help the contrast move out of their system faster.

When will you know the test results?

Results are typically available one to two business days after the test. You will receive results from the doctor who ordered the test and results will be available in the My VCU Health patient portal.

We’re here to help! Have questions?

Call (804) 628-4998 and ask for a radiology technologist. For after-hours questions, call (804) 828-3699.


Meet the team

View all providers
Kathryn S. Jones, MD
Kathryn Jones MD Radiology Read more
Laura Lee, MRS
Laura Lee MRS Radiology Read more
Eman Mahdi, MD
Eman Mahdi MD Radiology Read more
Chakradhar Mishra, MD
Chakradhar Mishra MD Radiology Read more
Gregory Vorona, MD
Gregory Vorona MD Radiology Read more


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