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Upper Gastrointestinal Series (UGI)

An upper gastrointestinal (GAS-tro-in-TEStuh-nal) series (UGI) is an x-ray of the upper part of your digestive tract. This includes your esophagus (eh-SOF-uh-gus), or food pipe, stomach, and part of your small intestine. The purpose of a UGI series is to find hiatal hernias, diverticula (small pouches or sacs), varices (enlarged veins), and motility disorders (problems with food movement). A UGI series is also used to diagnose strictures, ulcers, tumors, and digestive disorders.

How do I prepare for the test?

The following are general guidelines. You will receive more specific instructions from your doctor, nurse, or testing center.



Please check with your doctor or testing center for instructions. If you have diabetes, please talk with your doctor about taking your routine medication.



Do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your test. If your doctor or testing center has told you to take your routine medication, you may take it with small sips of water only.

Please bring:

  • A prescription slip from your doctor
  • Insurance forms and/or referrals
  • A list of your medications
  • A list of food, latex, or medication allergies

What will happen during the test?

If you are pregnant or think you might be, or if you are breastfeeding, tell the technologist and/or doctor who is performing your test. First you will be asked to change into a hospital gown and remove any metal objects that might block the x-ray pictures of your body. You will then lie down on an x-ray table and be asked to take several swallows of a thick barium liquid. As the barium passes through your digestive tract, the doctor will take x-rays.


The doctor will ask you to hold your breath when he or she takes an x-ray. This will help you stay still, so that motion does not blur your x-ray. The x-ray table will tilt up and down between x-rays, and you will be asked to roll your body into different positions. This helps the barium liquid coat all of your organs, so that the doctor can get a better view. A technologist will help you get into different positions.

What will happen after the test?

Your stools will be gray for 24 to 72 hours after the test. This is the barium passing through your digestive system. Drink plenty of liquids. If you are constipated after the test, tell the doctor who ordered the test.


How and when will I get the results of my test?

Your doctor will discuss the results of your test with you. Please talk to your doctor and/or testing center about how to get the results of your test.


What I need to do:

  •  Schedule an appointment at __________________(place) on __________________(date).
  • Report to _________________________ at _________________________________(time).
  • Receive specific instructions: _____________________________________________________________________
  • Bring prescription, insurance information, and/or referral slip.
  • Bring a list of medications and allergies.


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