SBFT - An upper GI series may be performed to diagnose structural or functional abnormalities of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.
A small bowel follow-through, also called small bowel series, is a radiologic examination of the small intestine. The small intestine begins at the duodenum (just past the stomach) and ends at the ileocecal valve (at the junction with the large intestine/colon).
What is the prep for the SBFT?
Nothing to eat or drink from midnight the day before the exam if the appointment time is in the morning. If the appointment time is in the afternoon, nothing to eat or drink for at least 8 hours prior to the appt time.
The study is done while you are drinking barium. The barium appears white on X-rays and shows the outline of the internal lining of the small bowel. An X-ray is taken every 20-30 minutes tracking the progression of the barium. It will be necessary to drink two cups of barium at the beginning of the exam, however, the patient may be asked to drink more as the exam progresses. Once the barium has entered the large intestine, you will be taken to the fluoroscopy room and a few more X-rays are taken of the ileocecal valve. This is one of the most common places for pathology of the bowel to be found; therefore imaging of this structure is crucial.
The amount of barium varies from patient to patient. The bowel motility also varies from patient to patient; the average test length is approximately 2-4 hours.
The barium is non-toxic and passed out normally as stool, although the appearance may be paler than usual.
As soon as the study is complete, you may resume your normal diet. You should drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming constipated.
Upper Gastrointestinal Series (UGI)
An upper gastrointestinal series (UGI) is a radiographic (X-ray) examination of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (first part of the small intestine) are made visible on X-ray film by a liquid suspension. This liquid suspension may be barium or a water-soluble contrast. If only the pharynx (back of mouth and throat) and esophagus (a hollow tube of muscle extending from below the tongue to the stomach) are examined with barium, the procedure is called a barium swallow.
Fluoroscopy is often used during an upper GI series. Fluoroscopy is a study of moving body structures — similar to an X-ray “movie." A continuous X-ray beam is passed through the body part being examined and is transmitted to a TV-like monitor so that the body part and its motion can be seen in detail. In an upper GI series, fluoroscopy allows the radiologist to see the movement of the barium through the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum as a person drinks.
Barium is a dry, white, chalky powder that is mixed with water to make a thick, milkshake-like drink. Barium is an X-ray absorber and appears white on X-ray film. When swallowed, a barium drink coats the inside walls of the upper GI tract organs so that the swallowing motion, inside wall lining, function, size, and shape of these organs are visible on X-ray. This process shows differences that might not be seen on standard X-rays. Barium is used only for diagnostic studies of the GI tract.
The use of barium with standard X-rays contributes to the visibility of various characteristics of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. Some abnormalities of the upper GI tract that may be detected with an upper GI series include tumors, ulcers, hernias, diverticula (pouches), strictures (narrowing), inflammation, and swallowing difficulties.
In addition to barium, the radiologist may use a gas, such as air or a carbonated substance. You may be given a powder, tablet, or carbonated beverage that produces gas when swallowed. Alternately, you may drink the barium through a perforated straw so that you swallow air with the barium. Air or gas will appear black on X-ray film, contrasting with the barium’s white image. The use of the two substances, barium and gas, is called a double contrast study. The radiologist may use the water-soluble contrast if you have a perforation (tear or hole) of the bowel or esophagus, or for other reasons determined by your doctor.
The purpose of using two contrast substances is to achieve an enhancement of the inside wall lining of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. As the gas expands the organs (like blowing up a balloon), a barium coating is formed on the inner surface of the organs. This technique enhances visualization by sharpening the outline of the inner surface layer of the esophagus, stomach, and/or duodenum, and is useful in diagnosing structural and tissue abnormalities.
Other related procedures that may be used to diagnose upper GI problems are barium swallow and esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD).
An upper GI series may be performed to diagnose structural or functional abnormalities of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. These abnormalities may include, but are not limited to:
There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend an upper GI series.
You may want to ask your doctor about the amount of radiation used during the procedure and the risks related to your particular situation. It's a good idea to keep a record of your past history of radiation exposure, such as previous scans and other types of X-rays, so that you can inform your doctor. Risks associated with radiation exposure may be related to the cumulative number of X-ray examinations and/or treatments over a long period of time.
If you're pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you should notify your doctor. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects.
Patients who are allergic to or sensitive to medications, contrast dyes, iodine, or latex should notify their doctor.
Constipation or fecal impaction may occur if the barium isn't completely eliminated from the body.
Contraindications for an upper GI series include, but are not limited to:
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to the procedure.
PRECAUTIONS: If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, you should notify your doctor. Notify the radiologist if you have had a recent barium X-ray or any gastrointestinal surgical procedure, as this may interfere with obtaining an optimal X-ray exposure of the upper GI series.
CLOTHING: You must completely change into a patient gown. A locker will be provided to secure your personal belongings. Please remove all piercings and leave all jewelry and valuables at home.
EAT/DRINK: The night before your exam, do not eat or drink anything after midnight until the exam is over.
Based on your medical condition, your doctor may request other specific preparation.
An upper GI series may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary, depending on your condition and your doctor’s practices.
Generally, an upper GI series follows this process:
You may resume your normal diet and activities after an upper GI series unless your doctor advises you differently.
Barium may cause constipation or possible impaction after the procedure if it isn't completely eliminated from your body. You may be advised to drink plenty of fluids to expel the barium from the body. You may be given a laxative to help expel the barium.
Since barium isn't absorbed into the body but passes through your entire gastrointestinal tract, your bowel movements may be lighter in color until all of the barium has been excreted.
Your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.
All fluoroscopy exams must be scheduled. Please call 304.526.2125 for scheduling.