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Upper GI

Upper gastrointestinal tract radiography, also called an upper GI, is a special type of X-ray of the pharynx, esophagus, stomach and first part of the small intestine (also known as the duodenum). The X-ray, called a fluoroscopy, uses barium as a contrast material, that the patient drinks before the exam.

Fluoroscopy makes it possible to see internal organs in motion. When the upper GI tract is coated with the barium, the radiologist is able to view and assess the anatomy and function of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.

An X-ray examination that evaluates only the pharynx and esophagus is called a barium swallow.

In addition to drinking barium, some patients are also given baking soda crystals (similar to Alka-Seltzer®) to further improve the images. This procedure is called an air-contrast or double-contrast upper GI.

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