Small Bowel Series

ExitCare ImageA small bowel series is an X-ray test. This test checks for problems in the small bowel. The small bowel is also called the small intestine.


  • Several days before the test, you may need to change what you eat. Follow your doctor's directions.

  • The night before the test, do not eat or drink anything after midnight.

  • Ask your doctor if you can take medicines you need with a sip of water.

  • If you have diabetes and need to take insulin, ask your doctor for instructions on how to do this before the test.


You will be awake during the test. You will not need pain medicine. The test often takes 2 to 4 hours.

  • An IV tube (intravenous) will be placed in your arm or hand. Medicine will flow into your body through the IV tube.

  • An X-ray will be taken of your belly (abdomen).

  • You will drink about 2 cups of barium. Barium is like a milkshake that tastes like chalk.

  • X-ray pictures will be taken every 20 to 30 minutes. You may need to stand up or lie on a table. The table may move or tilt. You may need to turn from side to side. Your doctor might press on your belly.

  • The test is done when all the needed pictures have been taken.


  • You may go back to your normal diet and activities right away.

  • Ask when your test results will be ready. Follow up with your doctor to discuss your test results.