Upper GI and small bowel x rays (1441)

Key points below

An upper gastrointestinal with small bowel (UGI with small bowel) is a test that uses x-rays to look at the esophagus and the stomach.  The esophagus is the tube that carries food and drink from the mouth to the stomach. The test also includes the first part of the intestine that carries the food out of the stomach. This test helps to see how well these organs are working.

Your child’s Upper GI X-ray is scheduled for (date) ______________  at  (time) _________________ in Imaging (Radiology) Department at Children’s Wisconsin Hospital.  

Please stop at a Welcome desk to get a badge and directions to Imaging.

To get a good test, the stomach and small bowel need to be cleaned out before the x-ray pictures are taken.  Follow the directions below based on your child’s age:

0 to 6 months old.  Nothing to eat or drink 3 hours before the test.
7 months to 3 years.  Nothing to eat or drink 4 hours before the test.
4 years and older.  Nothing to eat or drink 6 hours before the test.  

Important Information

Before the x-rayx ray with child

When you come to Imaging someone will greet you.  Your child may be asked to put on a hospital gown and robe.  A person skilled in taking X-rays, called a technologist will come and explain the test to you and your child.  Please ask any questions you have.  The technologist will take your child to the room where the test will be done.

How the test is done

How the test is done continued

Every 30 minutes, the technologist will take another x-ray.  X-rays will be taken until the barium gets to the end of the small bowel (intestine).  When that happens, the doctor will take one last picture.  

Parents:  If you wish to stay with your child during the exam you must meet the safety guidelines.  For example, you cannot have other children with you and you must not be pregnant.

How long will the test take?

Each person is different, but this most often takes from 1 to 3 hours, sometimes longer.  The doctor will check all of the X-rays while you wait.

Follow-up care


The radiologist looks at all films at the end of each test.  A report is sent to your child’s doctor.  The radiologist may need to contact your child’s doctor before you leave the hospital.  The doctor will discuss the results with you.


Call your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has:

  • Diabetes or is taking medicine.
  • A hard time pooping (constipation).
  • Special health care needs that were not covered by this information.