Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography (PTCA)

What is the test?

A barium swallow, or upper GI series, is an x-ray test used to examine the upper digestive tract (the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine). Because these organs are normally not visible on x-rays, you need to swallow barium, a liquid that does show up on x-rays. The barium temporarily coats the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and intestine, making the outline of these organs visible on the x-ray pictures. This test is useful for diagnosing cancers, ulcers, problems that cause narrowing of the esophagus, some causes of inflammation in the intestine, and some swallowing problems.

How do I prepare for the test?

Tell your doctor if you have ever had an allergic reaction to lidocaine or the numbing medicine used at the dentist's office, or to x-ray dye. Also tell your doctor if you could be pregnant, since x-rays can harm the developing baby. If you have diabetes and take insulin, discuss this with your doctor before the test.

Most people need to have a blood test done some time before the procedure, to make sure they are not at high risk for bleeding complications. If you take aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamin E or other medicines that affect blood clotting, talk with your doctor. It may be necessary to stop or adjust the dose of these medicines before your test.

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