Barium Enema (BE), Upper GI Series, Small Bowel Series

Where do I register?

You may call 706.774.2125 to pre-register if you prefer. Please report to Central Registration in the Outpatient Center at your scheduled check-in time.

Where do I park?

Please park in the Outpatient Parking Lot off the main circle to the front entrance of the hospital. Inform the attendant at the gate when you enter the Outpatient Parking Lot if you need shuttle service. If you need wheelchair assistance, please park in the main hospital parking deck. 

What is the test?

An upper GI and small bowel series is a set of x-rays taken to examine the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. X-rays are taken after the patient has swallowed a barium suspension (contrast medium). See also barium enema (lower GI series).

X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation like light, but of higher energy, so they can penetrate the body to form an image on film. Structures that are dense (such as bone) will appear white, air will be black, and other structures will be shades of gray. Barium is very dense and will appear white on the x-ray film.

The passage of the barium through the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine is monitored on the fluoroscope. Pictures are taken with you in a variety of positions. The test usually takes around three hours. However, in some cases, it may take up to 6 hours to complete.

A GI series may include this test or a barium enema.

A Barium Enema This test may be done in an office or a hospital radiology department. You lie on the x-ray table and a preliminary x-ray is taken. You then lie on your side while a well-lubricated enema tube is inserted gently into your rectum.

Barium, a radiopaque (shows up on x-ray) contrast medium, is then allowed to flow into your colon. A small balloon at the tip of the enema tube may be inflated to help keep the barium inside. The flow of the barium is monitored by the health care provider on an x-ray fluoroscope screen, which is like a TV monitor. Air may be puffed into the colon to distend (expand) it and provide better images.

You are asked to move into different positions and the table is slightly tipped to get different views. At certain times when the x-ray pictures are taken, you hold your breath and are still for a few seconds so the images won't be blurry.

The enema tube is removed after the pictures are taken and you are given a bedpan or helped to the toilet. You then expel as much of the barium as possible. One or two x-rays may be taken after the barium is expelled.

Test Preparation

GI Series & Small Bowel Series.  You may be given a restricted diet for 2 or 3 days before the test. You will likely be told not to smoke or eat for a period of time before the test. Generally, oral medications may be taken.

Be sure to check with your health care provider regarding any dietary or medication restrictions before the test. Never discontinue or decrease medications without consulting your health care provider.

Remove all jewelry before the test.

Barium enema.  Thorough cleaning of the large intestine is necessary for accurate pictures. Test preparations include a clear liquid diet, drinking a bottle of magnesium citrate (a laxative), and warm water enemas to clear out any stool particles.

Source: ADAM

For additional information or if you are unable to keep your appointment, please call 706.774.3120.

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