Gastrointestinal Malignancies Diagnosis



X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the inside of the body. This type of x-ray takes pictures of the esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine called the duodenum. The x-rays are taken during and after drinking a contrast material called barium.

Upper Digestive System
Upper GI stomach duodenum
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Possible Complications

Some people may have an allergic reaction to the barium or have a hard time keeping it down.

X-rays do not cause short-term health complications. But radiation doses may build up in the body over time. The more x-rays you have, the more radiation there will be. This can raise the risk of some cancers. The risk is higher in children and women who could get or are pregnant.

Lead safety shields are used during x-rays. They help lower the amount of radiation to the body.



This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Upper GI Series; Barium Swallow; Barium Meal)


American Gastroenterological Association 

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases 


Canadian Association of Gastroenterology 

Radiology for Patients 


Patient prep & instruction manual. Scheduled test: upper GI series. Penn Medicine website. Available at: Accessed September 15, 2020.

Upper GI series. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: Accessed September 15, 2020.

X-ray (radiography)—abdomen. Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: Accessed September 14, 2020.