Cardiothoracic Surgery Patient Care - Esophageal Cancer
Upper GI and small bowel series: X-rays to examine the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. X-ray pictures are taken after one has swallowed a barium suspension (contrast medium). See also barium enema.
X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation (like light). They are of higher energy, however, and can penetrate the body to form an image on film. Structures that are dense (such as bone) will appear white, air will be black, and other structures will be shades of gray. Barium is very dense and will appear white on the X-ray film.
Alternative Names: GI series; Barium swallow X-ray; Upper GI series How the test is performed:
This test may be done in an office or a hospital radiology department. You will be sitting or standing up while your heart, lungs, and abdomen are examined with a fluoroscope (a special X-ray that projects images onto a TV screen-like monitor). You may be given an injection of a medication that will temporarily slow bowel movement, so structures can be more easily imaged. You will then be given a milk shake type drink that has a barium mixture in it. You must drink 16 to 20 oz. for the examination. The passage of the barium through the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine is monitored on the fluoroscope. Pictures are taken with you in a variety of positions. The test takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete.