Upper GI Series

An Upper GI Series is an x-ray exam of your upper digestive tract (the area from your mouth to the start of your small intestine). This test helps your doctor find problems such as ulcers, tumors and certain diseases.


  • Arrive 15 minutes prior to your exam with a prescription if your doctor has given you one.
  • Bring a list of current medications.
  • 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.
  • Infants & Children: Bring bottle the infant will drink from
    • 0-6 months: Nothing by mouth for 2 hours prior to the examination.
    • 6 months – 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 also may swallow "air crystals,” a substance that makes air build up in your stomach. Do not burp, even if you feel you have to.     
  • You may need to stand or lie in different positions.
  • You will be asked to hold your breath for a short time during the x-ray.
  • This procedure takes about 45 minutes.
  • If you are having an Upper GI and Small Bowel series performed together, everyone’s bowels work differently and the movement of barium through the small bowel could take from 45 minutes to several hours; plan accordingly. 


  • Upper GI and Barium Enema studies cannot be done on the same day. If both need to be performed, Barium Enema must be completed first with the Upper GI completed 72 hours after.
  • There are no issues having the Upper GI Series done together with an Esophagram or Small Bowel Series.
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