UGI Procedure

An upper gastrointestinal (UGI) test uses fluoroscopy to take pictures of the stomach and small bowel. Fluoroscopy is a type of medical imaging that shows a continuous x-ray image on a TV monitor. The test helps to see how well these organs are working.

Before the Procedure

Before you and your child come to the hospital for your test, you need to start preparing for the procedure by following age-specific diet requirements.

  • Children under 2 years: Nothing by mouth for 3 hours prior to examination. No solid foods on the day of the examination.
  • Children 2-6 years: Nothing by mouth 4 hours prior to examination. No solid foods (food that is not liquid) on the day of the examination.

Please view our general instructions about how to prepare for your child's medical imaging procedure.

During the UGI

Children are encouraged to bring their favorite stuffed animal or blanket with them on the day of the test. Once you arrive at the hospital, the radiographer will greet you and have your child change into a gown. One parent is encouraged to stay with the child.

Your child will be asked to lie down on our x-ray table so we can take an initial plain x-ray of their abdomen. The radiologist will then come in and have your child drink a liquid called contrast. Contrast is a safe substance used to help radiologists visualize the stomach and throat better on the x-rays.

After your child drinks the contrast, the radiologist will begin taking images of your child’s stomach and small bowel using the fluoroscopy. The radiologist will help your child turn as they lie on the table. They will have to turn to both sides, and they may have to lie on their belly as well. It is important to hold very still when the camera takes the picture.

After the radiologist leaves, a small bowel follow-through might be needed. If so, the technologist will need to take additional pictures about every 15 to 30 minutes to monitor the barium as it goes all the way through your child's body. Once the contrast reaches the large intestine, the radiologist will take a few more pictures.

After the Test

When the test is over, your child can clean up and get dressed in the bathroom before you go home.

It is important to have your child drink plenty of water, juices and Kool-Aid after the test to help get the barium out of the body. It is possible that when they go to the bathroom it may look white for the next day or two. This is normal; it is just the contrast leaving the body. The more your child drinks, the faster the white color will fade. Your child can return to school as soon as they feel up to it.

After the images have been reviewed by the radiologist, the results will be reported directly to your referring physician. Your referring physician will discuss the findings and the plan of care with you.