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An upper GI series (gastrointestinal series) uses a special x-ray technology called fluoroscopy and a contrast agent called barium to show the structure of your child's esophagus, stomach and small intestine.
Performing an upper GI series test in children poses unique challenges. Diagnostic Radiology at Boston Children's provides a soothing, kid-friendly environment with:
An upper GI series is a group of X-rays taken of the upper part of the digestive system, including the esophagus, stomach and the first part of the small intestine.
An upper GI with small bowel series is an upper GI with additional imaging of the entire small bowel taken over a period of time.
During both an upper GI and upper GI with small bowel series, your child will drink barium, which will fill and coat her GI tract. Barium is a milky-white contrast liquid that shows up on x-ray and allows the radiologist to see parts of the body clearly. It is an effective and safe contrast agent for infants and children.
A special type of x-ray technology, called fluoroscopy, is used to take pictures once the barium is in the intestine.
An upper GI series allows the radiologist to accurately diagnose many illnesses that affect the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. Some reasons for an upper GI series include:
It is helpful to:
An upper GI series requires that your child not eat or drink for a period of time prior to the study. You will be given specific instructions when you make your child's appointment, but can use the following table as a guideline:
It is very important that you follow all preparation instructions or the study may need to be rescheduled.
If your child is having an upper GI series with small bowel follow-through, you may bring food that your child likes to eat. After part of the test is finished, your child may eat.
When you arrive, please go to the Radiology check-in desk:
You and your child will be taken to the procedure room, where the fluoroscope will be used to take x-rays. Your child will be awake at all times during the upper GI series.
An upper GI series without small bowel follow-through takes between 15 minutes and an hour.
If your child is also having an upper GI series with small bowel follow-through:
The x-ray camera will not touch your child during the test.
When the upper GI series is done, your child will be ready to go home or see his or her doctor if an appointment is scheduled.
One of the radiologists will review your child's images and create a written report of the findings and diagnosis.
The radiologist provides a report to the doctor who ordered your child's upper GI series. The doctor will discuss the results with you.
Department of Radiology
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