Medical Imaging Northwest | Upper Gastrointestinal Exam (UGI)

Upper Gastrointestinal Exam (UGI)

What is an upper gastrointestinal exam?

The Upper Gastrointestinal Series (UGI) includes an examination of the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, and a portion of the small bowel. Or, if necessary, a Small Bowel Series may be ordered to visualize the entire small bowel.

Both series require the use of Barium. Barium is a harmless, flavored, white or pink liquid substance which, when swallowed, allows your Radiologist to observe and document the condition of the digestive tract.

How should I prepare?


Appointments may be scheduled at the Puyallup Imaging Center or the radiology departments of our hospital locations. Patients are asked to prepare properly for the examination so the digestive tract is free of liquid or food particles when we do the examination.

Please do not eat or drink anything, chew gum or smoke for 6 to 8 hours before your appointment.

The UGI Series usually takes an hour or less, but you should allow more time for your visit in case extra views are needed or your stomach empties more slowly than average.

A Small Bowel Series usually requires 2-4 hours. In the event a Small Bowel Series is also needed, feel free to ask us for information about the time required that day.

We'll be happy to provide you access to a telephone if you need to make any arrangements for transportation or to reschedule your personal appointments resulting from an unexpected delay in completing the examination.

What should I expect?

After checking in with the receptionist, changing into your exam gown, and answering a few questions for the Technologist concerning your symptoms and the upcoming exam, you will meet the Radiologist. You will then swallow the Barium.

You may also be asked to swallow small crystals that will create gas to distend your stomach so that the Barium better coats your stomach. A fluoroscope will be used by the Radiologist to watch the fluid as it travels through your G.I. tract. You will be asked to move into a number of positions during the examination and hold your breath while images of certain areas are taken.
Following the fluoroscopic portion of the examination, the Radiologist will leave the x-ray room.

Your Technologist may take additional films as specified by the Radiologist. Once again, you will be instructed to move into a number of positions and hold your breath briefly during each exposure. Once home, you may resume your regular diet, unless otherwise instructed by your physician. The Barium may be constipating. Therefore, drink as much fluid as possible and take the mild laxative provided for you following your examination, unless otherwise instructed by your physician or the Radiologist.

Results are usually available 3 working days after the procedure. Please contact your referring physician for results at that time.

Which location provides this service?

  • Puyallup Imaging Center

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