Small Bowel Follow-Through
The small bowel follow-through is a test that examines the walls of the small intestine, located between the stomach and colon (large intestine).
Available at the
About the exam
The small bowel follow-through consists of rendering the small bowel (or “small intestine”) opaque using an orally administered contrast medium: barium. As it progresses through the digestive tract, it coats the inner walls, making them visible on images obtained from x-rays.
The exam takes about 1.5 hours. It may be faster or slower depending on your bowel transit time.
The small bowel follow-through enables abnormalities such as constriction, tumors, defects and certain inflammatory diseases to be detected.
You must fast after 9:00 p.m. the night before the exam; this includes no drinking, chewing gum or smoking.
Do not undergo this exam if you are pregnant.
If you have any known allergies, please inform our staff.
Our team will guide you and get you settled on the exam table, lying on your back.
The technologist will take an image of your abdomen without a contrast medium. For the next part of the exam, you must drink 600 ml of barium within 10 minutes.
The images will be taken in various positions (on your back, stomach or from the side) and at regular intervals (15 to 20 minutes) in order to follow the barium’s progress.
In order to see all the folds of the intestine, the radiologist may press down on your stomach. Keep still and hold your breath while images are being taken.
What You May Experience
Though you might briefly experience light cramping, the small bowel follow-through is painless.
After the Exam
Drink lots of water during the next 24 hours to help expel the barium. Stool may be whitish in colour for 48 to 72 hours after the exam.
The results of your exam will be sent to your referring physician, who will take care of any necessary follow-up.