An upper GI exam is a fluoroscopic examination, meaning it is performed using x-ray machines. This procedure is used to examine and help diagnose diseases associated with the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract including the stomach, esophagus and duodenum. Upper GI disease include: ulcers, GERD, tumors and Crohn's Disease among others.
This procedure is usually ordered when the patient experiences abdominal pain, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), regurgitation, diarrhea or weight loss. An upper GI exam is usually performed at a hospital by a radiologist. On the day of the exam, the patient should not eat, drink or smoke for at least hours prior to the examination. Before the exam, the patient is injected with glucagon, a medication which slows stomach and bowel activity. Baking soda salts may also be administered to distend the stomach by producing gas. After these preliminary preparations are made, the patient will be situated behind an upright x-ray machine and asked to drink a flavored, barium substance. Barium is a white chalky substance, which shows up on a x-ray machine. One the barium is ingested the radiologist will follow its path through the upper GI tract, taking pictures of the organs and noticing any abnormalities such as inflammation or obstruction. This procedure usually last about 30 minutes.
Since this procedure involves x-rays, there is a risk of radiation for pregnant women and a small risk or necrosis (skin death) for patients receiving multiple x-ray exams.
Find a Brooklyn Gastroenterologist at Practice Brooklyn Gastroenterology and Endoscopy