5 Imaging Tests for Gastrointestinal Disorders

Many different tests can be carried out to investigate gastrointestinal symptoms. If you are experiencing chest pain, difficulty swallowing, or other symptoms that could be linked to a gastrointestinal disorder, your doctor may want to conduct one of the following imaging procedures to find out the cause. You can arrange to have a private endoscopy, ultrasound, or other tests if you want to be seen quickly.


1. Endoscopy: A flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted through your mouth and down your oesophagus. The doctor can look for signs of damage or problems with your swallowing reflex. The test can be a bit uncomfortable, but your doctor will help you to stay calm during your private endoscopy.

2. Barium Swallow: It isn’t usually possible to see organs such as your oesophagus and stomach on an X-ray. If you are given a drink containing barium first, it will coat your digestive system. The barium shows up on the X-ray, revealing clearer pictures of your digestive organs. The barium will soon leave your body.

3. CT Scan: You will usually need to swallow a special dye known as a contrast medium before a CT scan, since it also uses X-rays to see what is going on with your digestive system. The CT scan uses a series of X-rays to follow the dye through your body, so it can reveal where any problems are happening.

4. Ultrasound: An ultrasound scan uses sound waves to create pictures of your digestive system. A gel will be applied to your skin to help the ultrasound probe to get a clearer picture. The probe will then be passed over the area that needs to be imaged. It will send out high frequency sound waves and turn the echoes into pictures.

5. MRI Scan: Magnetic Resonance Imaging creates detailed images of your internal organs. Since it uses magnetism and radio waves rather than X-rays, it can reveal problems that wouldn’t show up with a barium swallow or CT scan. You won’t need to take any dye as you would for a barium swallow or CT scan, and there won‘t be the same kind of discomfort as with a private endoscopy. All you need to do is lie down inside the scanner.

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