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Upper GI (UGI) and Small Bowel Follow Through (SBFT)

Planning ahead:

  • Do not eat, drink, or smoke anything at all (no exceptions) for at least six hours before the exam. You may take any regular medications with a sip of water.
  • Wear comfortable clothes with no underwire bras, no necklaces, and no buttons. If you wear metal or buttons, you will have to change into a hospital gown.
  • Arrive at the hospital 30 minutes before your exam is scheduled. Ask the scheduler what time that is.

Bring with you to the hospital:

  • Complete list of medications you are currently taking – name and dosage of each medication, and when you take it.
  • Written physician’s order for the exam.

On the day of your test:

  • Come in through the main entrance of Mon Health Medical Center and go to the Radiology Services registration desk, down the hallway to the right.
  • Plan to be at the hospital for approximately one to six hours.

During your exam:

  • Your X-ray technologist will ask you questions about your medical history and then take a "scout" image before you drink the solution.
  • You will then be asked to drink some crystals mixed with water to form gas in your stomach, and you will be told not to belch.
  • While standing on a table in the upright position, you will then be asked to drink barium while the X-rays are taken. You may hear the technologist and radiologist talking throughout the procedure; this is to communicate which positions the technologist needs to place you in for proper imaging.
  • Once upright imaging has been completed, the radiologist or technologist will put you into a horizontal position and roll you in various directions to coat the stomach with the barium. Several more x-rays will be taken.
  • You may be asked to hold your breath at various times during the procedure, and to drink a little more barium.
  • Once all images have been obtained and the radiologist checks them, you will receive additional barium to drink, then you may be told to walk as much as possible. More X-rays will be taken at 15-minute to one-hour intervals, depending on how long it takes for the barium to move through your intestines. The barium moves quickly through some patients, but slowly through others, so it is difficult to predict how much time this exam will take (can be one to six hours).
  • Once the barium reaches the end of the small intestines, more images will be taken, and a small balloon used to gently press on your intestines.
  • You may become constipated from the barium. Drink plenty of fluids to try to avoid this. If constipation persists, even after increasing fluids, contact your doctor who ordered the test.

For more information, call the Mon Health Department of Radiology Services at (304) 598-1280.

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