Small Bowel Series

A Small Bowel Series is an x-ray exam of your upper digestive tract (the area from the start of your small intestine to the start of your colon). This test helps your doctor find problems such as obstructions, tumors and certain diseases.


  • Arrive 15 minutes prior to your exam with a order if your doctor has given you one.
  • Adults: Nothing to eat or drink (including water) after midnight the night before the exam. No gum chewing or hard candy. No smoking of any kind.
  • Children & Infants: Bring bottle the infant will drink from.
    • 0-6 months: Nothing by mouth for 2 hours prior to the examination.   
    • 6 mo-1 year: Nothing by mouth for 3 hours prior to the examination. 
    • 1-2 years: Nothing by mouth for 4 hours prior to the examination.  
    • 2-16 years: Nothing by mouth including gum after midnight.


  • You will drink barium (a liquid that improves x-ray images).
  • You may need to lie in different positions.
  • You will be asked to hold your breath for a short time during the x-ray.
  • Everyone's bowels work differently and the movement of barium through the small bowel could take from 45 minutes to several hours; plan accordingly.


  •  Small Bowel Series and Barium Enema cannot be performed the same day. There must be a five-day interval between the two exams.
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