Barium Studies Wentworth-Halton X-Ray and Ultrasound Inc.

What Are An Upper GI Series And Small Bowel Meal?

An upper GI series is an x-ray exam of the oesophagus, stomach, and first part of the small bowel. It utilizes a special form of real time x-ray called fluoroscopy and contrast material called barium. In addition, gas-producing granules are given to improve the diagnostic quality of the images.

A small bowel meal is a similar study that focuses on the remainder of the small bowel again using barium. This test requires images to be taken at set time intervals until the barium reaches the end point of the small bowel. Once this has been established, a Radiologist will introduce carbon dioxide rectally and use fluoroscopy to better assess the small bowel.

Appointment Details

  • An appointment is required for these tests.
  • Patient must bring in a signed requisition from their physician and health card.
  • Please arrive 10 minutes early to register and allow optimal time for test. You may need to re-book if late.

What Do I Need To Prepare?

Upper GI Series (Barium Meal) or Barium Swallow (oesophagus)

Nothing to eat or drink after 10pm. Do not chew gum or smoke the morning of the study.

Small Bowel Meal

Purchase 1 box of PICO-SALAX at the drugstore. Read instructions before use. The day before test: Before breakfast: mix 1 sachet with 5 oz of water, stir for 2–3 minutes (make sure it is cool before drinking) and drink contents. Mid afternoon – prepare 2nd sachet (same mixing directions) and drink contents. Follow meal instructions that are inside the box for breakfast, lunch and liquid supper. No further food is allowed after supper. Drink plenty of clear fluids, preferably water, until bowel movements have ceased. No food allowed morning of the study. You may drink water to satisfy thirst. This test will take up to 3 hours to complete.

Procedure

Upper GI Series

A Technologist will show you to a change room, give you a gown and ask you to remove some of your clothing and jewelry. You will be brought into the x-ray room where you will be asked to swallow a few gas producing granules with a small amount of water. The Technologist will then give you a cup of barium to drink while they take X-ray images. The barium passes down your oesophagus into your stomach and duodenum. You will be asked to turn on your side, back, stomach and to stand to ensure all areas are seen for assessment. You may also be given an injection of a medication called Buscapan which is a smooth muscle relaxant that aids in visualizing ulcers, and erosions. Once all images have been captured you will be able to dress and to return to your normal daily activities.

The Technologist will instruct you to consume extra fluids for the next 24 hours after the exam along with your regular meals to ensure that the barium flushes out of your bowel to avoid constipation.

Marshmallow Swallow

If one of your problems is swallowing difficulty (dysphagia), you will be given marshmallows to swallow as part of the Upper GI Series. The boluses are 1 cm and         2 cm in size. The smaller bolus is given first and if it passes through your oesophagus easily, then you will be given the second bolus. Marshmallows are used as they simulate pills and normal food and melt easily.

Small Bowel Meal

A Technologist will show you to a change-room and you will be asked to drink some barium. After you have finished you will be asked to remove some of your clothing and jewelry. The Technologist will bring you into an x-ray room where you will lie on an exam table on your stomach. Pictures will be taken at prescribed intervals, as per the Radiologist’s instruction until the barium runs through the small bowel into the colon.
Once the barium has reached the colon, a pneumocolon will be performed. The pneumocolon requires a catheter to be inserted into the rectum and the colon pneumatically filled with carbon dioxide. This may produce some abdominal distension but it has the benefit of providing high resolution images of the terminal ileum where a disproportionately high number of small bowel pathologies resides. A few images will be taken and you will be shown to the washroom to expel some of the carbon dioxide. Once you are finished you will return to your change-room, dress and resume your normal daily activities.

 

The Technologist will instruct you to consume extra fluids for the next 24 hours after the exam along with your regular meals to ensure that the barium flushes out of your bowel to avoid constipation.

Wentworth-Halton X-Ray and Ultrasound Inc. Patient Communication Platform