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Gastrointestinal Test, Upper

What is an Upper GI Test?

An upper gastrointestinal (GI) test uses X-rays to take pictures of the stomach and small bowel. The test helps the doctor see how well these organs are working.

Before the Test

Before you come to the hospital, explain to your child what will happen. For young children, use simple words and explain only right before the test.

Follow the eating and drinking instructions below. If your child is taking medicines ordered by a doctor, give them at the scheduled times.

Under 3 years old: Nothing to eat or drink for four hours before the test.

Three years old and older: If scheduled for the test in the morning, nothing to eat or drink after midnight. If scheduled for the test after 12 noon, nothing to eat or drink for five hours before the test.

During the Test

During the test, your child will drink special liquid called barium. Barium is a milky white liquid that is usually strawberry or fruit-flavored. After he / she drinks the liquid, a doctor (radiologist) or X-ray technologist will take X-rays of the child's belly.

Nothing will hurt your child during the test, but he / she will need to lie still on the X-ray table. If your child is unable to lie still, our staff may assist your child with holding still.

Often, more X-ray pictures are taken after waiting for the barium to pass through the stomach and intestines. The test may last two hours or more. The X-ray technologist will keep you informed. Parents are encouraged to stay in the X-ray room during the test. Most children are less apprehensive and more cooperative when a loved one is with them. If you are pregnant, you will have to wait outside the room. It is a good idea for siblings to stay with another caregiver.

It is possible that during the procedure your child may experience some discomfort. Please tell the doctor, nurse or technologist if pain occurs.

After the Test

The technologist will tell you that you may leave when all the X-ray pictures are taken. Your child may return to normal daily activities. Results of the test will be sent to your child's doctor who will contact you about the results.

After the upper GI test, it is helpful for your child to drink plenty of liquids to help him / her to pass the barium out of his / her intestine. Give your child liquids like juices, water, and Kool-Aid or fruit punch. It is possible that your child's stool may appear whitish in color for 24-48 hours after the test due to the barium that he / she has swallowed.

Last Updated 06/2022

Reviewed By Dianne Hater
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