Skip to main content

Upper GI Series

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What do I need to know about an upper GI series?

An upper gastrointestinal (GI) series is an x-ray of the esophagus, stomach, and the upper part of the small intestine. An x-ray that only takes pictures of your throat and esophagus is called a barium swallow. Liquid barium (a white chalky liquid) or another type of contrast liquid is given to help the pictures show up more clearly. This test may be done to find the cause of problems such as trouble swallowing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or reflux.

How do I prepare for an upper GI series?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for the test. Adults should not to eat or drink anything, chew gum, or smoke within 8 hours of the test. Children should not eat solid foods within 6 hours of this test. Infants should not eat or drink anything within 4 hours of this test. Your healthcare provider will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your test.

What will happen during an upper GI series?

What will happen after an upper GI series?

You may have bloating or nausea after the test. The barium liquid may cause your bowel movements to turn a gray or white color for 48 to 72 hours after the test. The barium may also cause constipation. Your healthcare provider may recommend a laxative to relieve constipation. It may also be helpful to drink extra liquids for 12 to 24 hours after the test.

What are the risks of an upper GI series?

You will be exposed to a low amount of radiation during this test. Radiation can harm body cells. This radiation can be harmful to a developing baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you think or know you are pregnant.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2024 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.