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What happens during a small bowel series test?

A:

Quick Answer

During a small bowel series test, physicians take a set of X-rays to examine the stomach, esophagus and the small intestine. Pictures are taken as the patient stands or sits in various positions, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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Full Answer

Typically, physicians administer the small bowel series test in a radiology department or a health care office. Before a health care officer administers the test, he may inject the patient with a drug that slows the movement of muscles in the small intestine. Before the test, the patient must take a drink containing barium. The test, which includes X-rays to track the movement of barium through the esophagus and small intestine, takes between three and six hours to complete, states the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

During the test, the imaging technologist may instruct the patient to stay still and hold his breath as he takes the X-rays. After the test, a physician advises the patient to drink plenty of fluids so that the barium can move through his system. When interpreting the results, health care officers assess how well the barium moves through a patient's system. It may take several days to review the results of the test, according to Healthline.

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