A small bowel series is a way to look at your small bowel with X-Rays.

These procedures are performed at the following Dr Jones & Partners locations:


You will be given some liquid barium to drink. After a short period you will be asked to lie on an X-ray table for an initial X-ray of your abdomen. The liquid barium is usually diluted with water. Barium is white and chalky with no distinct taste. It is dense so it can be seen with the X-ray machine as it passes through the body. You may be asked to lie on your right side between X-rays to help the barium move faster. The length of time it takes for the liquid to pass through the entire small bowel is highly variable. It may range from 45 minutes to 4 hours or in some circumstances even longer. X-rays of the abdomen are repeated at 20 – 40 minute intervals to monitor the bariums’ progress. Usually you will spend the first part of the test lying on the table. After this you may be encouraged to drink more Barium and walk around. Often you may be provided a cup of tea and something to eat if it is taking a long time for the barium to pass through your system. It is very important to wait until the barium reaches the end of your small bowel before the examination is finished. Once the large bowel is reached the Radiologist will use an X-ray video camera to look more closely at the small bowel. Sometimes a small amount of compression is needed against your abdomen to separate sections of the bowel in the pictures. This is done gently by the radiologist using a protective glove.

Before your Scan

You will need to fast for 6 hours prior to the examination.


Small bowel series take between 1 – 4 hours (in few cases it may take longer) as the barium is swallowed and must naturally progress through the small bowel.

Other Information

After the procedure, the fluid (barium) you have swallowed for this examination may lead to constipation.

For this reason, we suggest you maintain a high fluid intake for the next two days.

lf you have any problems, please feel free to speak to the staff before you leave, they will be happy to help you.

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