Upper GI

An upper GI is often performed to screen for things such as blockages and obstructions that may cause gastroparesis symptoms and slow down emptying. If an obstruction is the cause, the symptoms of gastroparesis should go away once the blockage has been cleared. Sometimes this test can indicate gastroparesis based on the amount of time it takes for the barium to leave the stomach.


Patients who are having an upper GI will be asked to not eat or drink after midnight the night before the test.

Before the test:

Upon arrival at the radiology department the day of the test, the patient will be given several cups of barium (contrast) to drink within a certain timeframe.

During the test:

Once all the barium has been ingested, a series of images will be taken of the barium as it moves through the stomach and into the small bowel. This test can find problems such as blockages and tumors. In the case of gastroparesis, transit of the barium may also be slow.

After the test:

It is not uncommon for stool to be white for a few days following the procedure. It is important to drink as much as possible following the test in order to get rid of the barium.  It can often become hard if it sits in the GI tract for long. Normal activity may be resumed immediately after the test.


Abnormal results may show an obstruction, tumor, abnormality of the stomach, or delayed emptying of barium.


The flavor is not very appealing, but you may ask that the barium be flavored or request permission to suck on hard candy or a mint after each sip.