X-rays are a specific type of electromagentic radiation that are used to highlight parts of the body and produce images of the structures inside your body. While most commonly used to view bones, X-rays may also be used by your Arlington gastroenterologist to examine the digestive tract from the esophagus to the rectum. There are various types of X-ray tests that enable your gastroenterologist to examine the digestive tract and diagnose certain ailments.
X-ray tests that are used to examine the digestive tract are typically either categorized as an upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract X-ray or a lower GI X-ray test. The form of X-ray that is used to view the digestive tract is called a fluoroscopy and requires patients orally ingest a material, such as barium. X-rays to examine the lower digestive tract (including the large intestine and rectum) require a barium enema, which is introduced into the colon through a thin, flexible tube that is inserted into the rectum by your gastroenterologist.
Reasons for a GI X-Ray
The upper GI X-ray test may be used to diagnose one of the following abnormalities of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum (top of small intestine):
- Gastroesphageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Inflammation or infection
- Certain types of cancer
- Structural problems
- Motility disorders
- Chest and/or abdominal pain
- Unexplained vomiting and/or indigestion
- Bloody bowel movements
What to Expect
A fluoroscopy makes it possible for your Arlington, Texas gastroenterologist to see internal organs in motion and requires a patient to drink barium or other forms of orally ingested contrast that contain iodine. Barium is a dry, white, chalky powder that, when mixed with water, turns into a thick, milkshake-like drink. Barium works by coating the inside walls of the upper GI tract, enabling your gastroenterologist to examine the inside wall lining, function, size, and shape of these organs when swallowing.
As you swallow the barium or other type of contrast your doctor will take single pictures, a series of X-rays, or a fluoroscopy (video) in order to view the contrast moving through the digestive tract. There are various types of barium or contrast liquids, some that come in tablet form.