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American College of Radiology, Breast Imaging Center of Excellence

American College of Radiology, Computed Tomography (CT) Accredited Facility

American College of Radiology, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Accredited Facility

What to Expect for an Upper GI Series

An upper GI series usually consists of x-rays of the pharynx, esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine. The series shows how your digestive tract is functioning and is used to diagnose ulcers, tumors, hiatal hernias, reflux disorders, and many other conditions of the upper digestive tract.

Before Your Appointment

  • Please pre-register for your appointment by calling 978-937-6429, Monday - Friday, 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. or anytime online at  Express Registration .
  • An Appointment Reminder with specific instructions for your exam will be mailed to you.
  • Please keep the written order from your physician to bring to the exam.
  • Obtain copies of any recent films from x-rays or scans done at other facilities to bring to the exam.
  • Be sure to inform your doctor of any allergies or other medical conditions
  • Women should tell their doctors if they might be pregnant.

Exam Preparations

  • Your doctor will provide detailed instructions. You will be asked not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the exam. You may take prescribed medications with a small amount of water. People with diabetes should consult their physician before taking daily medication.
  • You may be asked to take a laxative or give yourself an enema.
  • Please wear loose, comfortable clothes. You may be required to remove jewelry and other metal objects before the exam.

During the Procedure

You will lie on an exam table with the x-ray equipment suspended above you. The technologist will adjust your position to obtain better photographs of a particular area. As you swallow a thick, mildly flavored barium drink, the radiologist will watch it travel through your digestive tract. After the barium has coated your upper intestines, you will be asked to lie still for the x-ray films.

After the Procedure

You may eat as soon as you wish. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to flush out the barium. Doing this will help you avoid constipation. Your stools may be white or light gray from the barium for several days after the exam.

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