General Radiology (X-ray) involves radiographs of the body including chest, abdomen, extremities and head. Some exams require preparation or fasting.
Contrast agents are utilized to help or enhance the visibility of your organs during a test. The agents can be administered in a vein or instilled in a duct or hollow organ, such as barium sulfate in the gastrointestinal tract or through oral ingestion (drinking).
Examples of exams involving contrast agents are: upper GI, barium enema and IVP.
Upper Gastrointestinal Series (UGI)
The UGI is an X-ray examination of the esophagus and stomach and is sometimes followed by images of the small bowel. You should arrive with an empty stomach (no food or drink after midnight). The radiologist will ask you to drink a barium mixture, which coats the digestive tract so that it becomes more visible. The radiologist views the movement of barium and may take several images while moving the patient to different positions. Barium is similar to Milk of Magnesia in consistency and taste.
The exam should take approximately 30–60 minutes. Additional images of the barium moving through the small intestine may be taken if requested by the referring physician. This can add anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours. Throughout these procedures, the patient usually feels no discomfort or pain.
A barium enema is done to evaluate the lower GI tract. The colon and rectum are also important areas to examine.
A bowel-cleansing prep must be administered the day before the procedure to permit clearer images of the large bowel and surrounding tissues (nothing to eat or drink after midnight before the test).
At the time of examination, a barium mixture is instilled through an enema tip placed in the rectum by the technologist. This procedure may cause some discomfort but is not painful. The radiologist will examine and image the flow of barium. The patient will be asked to move to several different positions.
Frequently Asked Questions