Upper Gastrointestinal Series (UGI)

An upper gastrointestinal (upper GI) series is an x-ray examination of the esophagus and stomach, using barium to coat the stomach wall so it may be examined under x-ray. An upper GI exam helps your doctor make a diagnosis. The radiologist interprets the films and reports the results to your doctor who then reviews the results with you.

Most often, an upper GI series is an outpatient procedure, although it may be performed during inpatient care. If you know you have an allergy of any kind, are taking prescription medications, or are a woman of childbearing age and think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor prior to the examination.

Before the UGI

You will be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight or in the morning before your x-rays.


During the UGI

You will wear a hospital gown, and a preliminary film of your abdomen may be taken. You will be positioned behind a fluoroscope and given a small amount of baking soda crystals and water to create gas in the stomach, followed by a cup of barium. It is important not to belch, as the gas assists the doctor in evaluating your stomach.

You will be asked to move in different positions and hold your breath, so x-rays can be taken. Some films are taken while you are lying down and some while you are standing.

After the radiologist has taken x-rays of selected areas, x-rays of your entire upper digestive tract may be taken.

After the UGI

You will be asked to wait while the radiologist reviews the films to make sure all necessary information has been obtained. At home you may resume your regular diet unless your doctor instructs otherwise. It may be beneficial to take a laxative and drink plenty of fluids after the exam. It is normal for your stool to appear white as the barium is expelled from your system.