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Upper GI with small bowel follow through

What is an upper GI series with small bowel follow through?

This test includes imaging of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Using a fluoroscope, a radiologist is able to take moving pictures of your child's digestive tract. A contrast agent will be used to highlight the upper GI tract, which is made up of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine.

A small bowel follow through uses the same fluoroscope technology to assess the second and third sections of the small intestine (known as the jejunum and the ileum).

Why is my child having this test done?

They are having this test done to establish the presence or absence, nature or extent of disease affecting upper gastrointestinal tract. Imaging from Upper GI studies can reveal abnormalities related to:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Uncontrolled vomiting
  • Small bowel obstruction
  • Gastrointestinal leaks post-operational

How can I prepare for the test?

  • Your child should NOT have food or drink except clear liquids 2-6 hours prior to exam (this is age-dependent).
  • Bring a picture ID and insurance information.
  • Please arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time.

What happens during an upper GI imaging test?

This test can take between 2-8 hours.

Your child will change in to a hospital gown, and an abdominal x-ray will be obtained.

We're able to obtain the x-ray by having your child lay down on a fluoroscopy table, moving in different positions and drinking a contrast agent while the radiologist is taking images using fluoroscopy x-ray equipment. The contrast agent is a liquid that contains barium. The liquid tastes like a thick, milkshake and is available in several flavors.

A series of x-ray images or fluoroscopy images will be taken periodically while the contrast moves throughout their small intestine.

After-care information

Your child may resume normal activity, eating and drinking after the exam unless otherwise specified by your physician.

The barium contrast can turn the stool a gray or white color for 48 – 72. It may also cause constipation. Unless fluids are restricted by the doctor, they should drink fluids (more than normal) to help the contrast move out of their system.

Follow-up care after the procedure

Your results will be available 1-2 business days on the patient portal and to your ordering physician. Please contact the physician that ordered your test for these results.

Contact information for questions or concerns

If you have any questions, please contact us at (804) 628-4998 and ask for a radiology technologist. If you need to contact us after hours, please call (804) 828-3699.


Meet the team

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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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