Small Bowel Series

A Small Bowel Series is an x-ray exam of your upper digestive tract (the area from the start of your small intestine to the start of your colon). This test helps your doctor find problems such as obstructions, tumors and certain diseases.


  • You will drink barium (a liquid that improves x-ray images).
  • You may need to lie in different positions.
  • You will be asked to hold your breath for a short time during the x-ray.
  • Everyone's bowels work differently and the movement of barium through the small bowel could take from 45 minutes to several hours; plan accordingly.


  • Arrive 15 minutes prior to your exam with a prescription if your doctor has given you one.
  • Adults: Nothing to eat or drink (including water) after midnight the night before the exam. No gum chewing or hard candy. No smoking of any kind.
  • Children (>2 years): Nothing to eat or drink (including water) after midnight the night before the exam. No gum chewing or hard candy.
  • Infants: Must be hungry enough to drink. Bring bottle the infant will drink from.
    • 0-6 months: Nothing to eat or drink two hours prior to the exam.
    • 6 months – 2 years: No liquids 4 hours prior to the exam, and no solids after midnight the night before the exam.


  • If you are also having a Barium Enema performed, this exam must be done at least five days after.
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