Small Bowel Series (SBS)

What is a Small Bowel Series and what does it do?

A small bowel follow through (SBFT) or Small bowel series (SBS) is a fluoroscopic barium study of the small intestine. This test is usually ordered in conjunction with the Upper GI Series (UGI). The patient drinks a contrast medium containing barium sulfate. This contrast medium appears white on x-rays, and shows the outline of the internal lining of the bowel. X-ray images are taken as the contrast moves through the intestine, commonly at 0 minutes, 30 minutes, 60 minutes and 90 minutes. This enables the radiologist to assess the bowel as it becomes visible. The test is completed when the Barium is visualized in the terminal ileum and Cecum, which marks the beginning of the large bowel. This is one of the most common places for pathology of the bowel to be found; therefore imaging of this structure is crucial. The test length varies from patient to patient as bowel motility is highly variable.

Who performs the test?

The examination is performed by a licensed Radiologic Technologist RT (R).

Where does it take place?

At Jackson Hospital in the Radiology Department.

How long does it take?

Average person takes 2-4 hours; maybe longer if there are motility problems.

What can I do to make it a success?

  • Wear comfortable, easy to remove clothing.
  • Follow all preparation instructions given to you by your physician’s office. If you have any questions, please call us for clarification. We want your exam to be as successful as possible.

What should I do before the exam?

  • Take nothing by mouth 8 hours prior to your exam. You may take your medications with minimal amount water.
  • If you are a woman of childbearing age and there is a chance you may be pregnant, please consult your physician before scheduling this exam.

What happens during the exam?

  • You will be asked to dress in a patient gown.
  • You will be given a cup of liquid barium to drink.
  • The technologist will take images of your abdomen at timed intervals to track the barium through your small bowel.
  • Once the barium has reached the terminal ilieum and cecum, the exam is complete.

What should I do after the exam?

  • You will be given discharge instructions requesting that a mild laxative be taken after the study.
  • After the examination, your stool will be lightly colored from the barium for 24 to 72 hours. It is important to remove the barium from the large intestine. If the barium is not removed, it may harden and block the intestine. Drink 6 to 8 glasses (soda pop can size) of liquid after the test to help get rid of the barium. This will also help to keep you from being constipated or dehydrated.

Contact Information:

Hospital (main operator): (850) 526-2200
Radiology Department: (850) 718-2580

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