What Is It?
Gastrointestinal (GI) Screening uses x-rays to examine the gastrointestinal tract. The upper and lower GI tests look for explanations for problems such as abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, reflux, hernias, intestinal tumors, and polyps. These exams also typically use an instrument called a fluoroscope that allows the gastrointestinal tract to be studied in motion and recorded.
Types of procedures include:
Upper GI Screening
Upper GI tests examine the esophagus, stomach, and part of the small intestine. Procedures include a barium swallow (esophagus), upper GI series (stomach), and small bowel series (small intestine). A physician will have you drink a contrast with a barium solution that outlines the swallowing process. Most exams vary from 1 to 4 hours in length.
Lower GI Screening
Lower GI tests examine the large intestine and rectum. Procedures include a barium enema (colon), and an air contrast barium enema (colon). For these tests, the barium solution is inserted via a tube into the rectum. Most exams vary from 1 to 2 hours in length.
Before your exam
GI screenings often require strict dietary preparations. Depending on the test, you may be asked to follow a low-fiber diet for 2 to 3 days, stop smoking 12 to 24 hours before, or refrain from eating anything 12 hours before. You may also be asked to take a laxative or enema the night before.
for your exam
Most GI tests vary from 1 to 4 hours. You can expect to lay on a tilting x-ray table and positioning will change with different exams.