Upper gastrointestinal tract radiography, or an upper GI, is an x-ray of the pharynx, esophagus, stomach and first
part of the small intestine. Using fluoroscopy and barium as a contrast
material, upper GIs help radiologists to evaluate tissues and determine
how to best treat them.
A double-contrast upper GI, or an air-contrast, is an x-ray of the small
intestines. This is also referred to as a small bowel series. Double-contrast
upper GIs use fluoroscopy to see internal organs in motion. To prepare
for a double-contrast upper GI, some patients are also given baking soda
crystals in addition to drinking barium. This helps clarify images so
your radiologist can best determine how to treat your condition.
Common Uses Of Upper GI Exams
An upper GI studies digestive function and detects gastrointestinal issues
like ulcers, tumors, inflammation of the esophagus and stomach, hiatal
hernias, scarring, blockages. The upper GI also helps diagnose symptoms
like difficulty swallowing, chest and stomach pain, reflux, unexplained
vomiting, severe indigestion, and blood in the stool.
lower GI exam or barium enema uses fluoroscopy and barium to x-ray the large intestine.
This includes the colon, rectum and sometimes the appendix and a portion
of the small intestine.
Common Uses of Lower GI Exam
When barium is in your lower gastrointestinal tract, your radiologist can
see and evaluate how your rectum, colon and lower small intestine are
Lower GI exams can detect or diagnose:
- Changes in bowel habits
- Benign tumors such as polyps
- Blood in stools
- Chronic diarrhea
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Suspected blood loss
- Unexplained weight loss
- Signs of other intestinal illness
Find out how to
prepare for your upper or lower GI exam.