Know Before You Go: Kids

What is an Upper Gastrointestinal exam?

An upper GI series is x-ray pictures of the upper part of your digestive system. These pictures help your doctor see how your esophagus, stomach, and the first part of your small intestine are working whenever you eat and drink.

What will happen during my Upper GI?

You will lie down on a table when it is time to take your pictures.  You will drink a liquid called barium to help your doctor see how you swallow.  Drinking the barium also shows the doctor how your esophagus and stomach are working.  This liquid looks like a milkshake, but can have a chalky taste.  Most kids say it tastes better if a snow cone flavor is added.  The bigger drinks you take, the faster your pictures will be finished!

The camera will move over the top of you but will not touch or hurt you.  The camera makes humming and clicking noises whenever it takes your picture.  You may be asked to turn your body from side to side to have your pictures taken.

Know Before You Go: Parents

Helpful Info

Caregivers are able to remain in the room with their child as long as they are not pregnant. Your child may bring comfort items from home, such as a favorite blanket or stuffed animal. Your child will drink the barium liquid through a straw, sippy cup or bottle while lying down. You are welcome to bring your own sippy cup or bottle if you feel it will help your child be more successful.

Parent Role

You can help your child stay calm and relaxed by remaining calm yourself. One parent is welcome to stand at the head of the bed. We encourage you to talk to your child and provide comforting touch during the exam.

Important Notes

If you would like to speak to a child life specialist to discuss your child’s coping during this appointment, please call 314.454.6139.  The technologist completing the exam can also page Child Life the day of your appointment for additional support.

Upper GI with Small Bowel Series

Upper GI with Small Bowel Series is the same as an Upper GI, but will include additional images of the entire small bowel. Once the upper GI portion is complete, your child will drink more of the barium liquid and return to the exam room every 20-30 minutes for pictures. This exam can take several hours to complete.