Small Bowel Follow Through
What is a small bowel follow through?
A small bowel follow through is an examination of the small intestine. It is conducted by following the flow of barium through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract with a fluoroscope. The procedure is often used to help diagnose disorders or diseases related to the GI tract.
What will happen during my small bowel follow through exam?
After changing out of your clothes and into a hospital gown, you will be asked to lie down on an examination table. A technologist will take a preliminary X-ray and then give you two cups of barium to drink. Following this, the technologist will take another X-ray. More images will be taken at timed intervals to track how the barium is travelling through the GI tract. When the barium starts to empty into the large intestine, the technologist or radiologist will take several more films with the fluoroscope.
Following the exam, it is recommended that you drink plenty of water for the rest of that day and the next, about 8 to 10 glasses each day. This will help you to pass the barium more easily, as it can sometimes lead to constipation.
How long will the small bowel follow through take?
The length of a small bowel follow through exam depends on how long it takes the barium to travel through your small intestine. The exam can last anywhere from 2 hours to 6 hours. Once the exam is done, you will be able to resume your normal activities. The radiologist will analyze the films and forward the findings to your physician.
How do I prepare for a small bowel follow through?
On the day of your exam:
- Do not smoke, chew gum, eat or drink (including water) from 10:00 p.m the evening before until the examination is complete.
NOTE: Patients having small bowel examination must be prepared to return at frequent intervals throughout the day for further films.