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Small Bowel Follow Through (SBFT)

Your doctor has suggested you have a Small Bowel Follow Through of your small intestine. This is sometimes called a Small Bowel Series. This will help your doctor identify possible problems and the best treatment.

This study involves the drinking of barium, which will be about two cups. The barium will show your small intestines on the X-ray. A series of X-rays will be taken to follow the path of the barium through your small intestine.


How do you get ready for the test?

  • Adults - Do not eat or drink for 8 hours prior to procedure. This means nothing by mouth for 8 hours. Take medicines at the regular times with a small sip of water.
  • Children - Do not eat or drink for 8 hours prior to procedure. This means nothing by mouth for 8 hours. Take medicines at the regular times with a small sip of water.
  • Infants and Young Children - (two years or younger) Do not eat or drink 4 hours prior to procedure.
  • You will be asked to put on a hospital gown and pants.
  • Let the technologist know if you are pregnant or nursing.


What happens during a Small Bowel Follow Through?

The technologist will ask you to start drinking the first cup of barium within a few minutes, followed by a second cup of barium.

The technologist will start taking a series of single X-rays of your abdomen and pelvis around 20 minutes apart. You will be asked to lie on your stomach and hold your breath for these X-rays.

In between the X-rays you will be asked to take a seat in the Patient Waiting Area. Once it is determined the barium has reached your large intestine a Radiologists or Radiologist Practitioner Assistant will take a few fluoroscopic views of the junction of your small and large intestine. The transit time of barium traveling through the small intestine varies.


What does barium taste like?

Barium is heavy and has a chalky taste. Children and adults often dislike the taste. Flavors may be added to make the barium more pleasant tasting. Children under 12 months often like the taste of barium.


What should you do after the test?

Barium rarely causes any problems. It passes through the digestive system. Drink extra fluids for 12 - 24 hours after the study. If you/your child become constipated after the study, drink more liquids and eat more fruit. If the constipation continues, talk with your doctor.


How long will the test take?

The Small Bowel Follow Through can take about one hour to three hours.


How do you get to your test?

Your appointment is in the Institute for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (Radiology). You will be directed where to go when you check in. If you have any questions contact us at 303-398-1611.


This information has been approved by Will Cook, RT, MA (January 2012). 

Contact Us

If you have questions, or will not be able to make your appointment, please call: 303.398.1611.

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