Other Screening Procedures and Diagnostic Tests

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
This procedure uses a thin, flexible tube, called a sigmoidoscope, with a tiny camera on the end to view the rectum and the lower part of the colon, called the sigmoid colon. It can be used to evaluate inflammation, ulcers, polyps, and cancer in the sigmoid colon and rectum. The sigmoidoscope can also be used for tissue sampling and removal.

Abdominal Ultrasound
An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of internal organs and soft tissues. An abdominal ultrasound can be used to evaluate the gallbladder, liver, bile ducts, pancreas, kidneys, and the abdominal cavity.

Abdominal X-ray
X-rays of the abdomen may be ordered to evaluate nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain to ensure there is no blockage, torsion, or dilation of the GI tract. Abdominal x-rays accomplish this by looking for the difference between air and fluid in abdominal structures.

Lower GI Series (Barium Enema)
This procedure uses x-rays and a chalky liquid called barium to view the lower GI tract, including the colon and the rectum. The barium, which is passed through the anus, makes the colon and rectum more visible on the x-rays.

Upper GI Series (Barium Swallow)
This procedure uses x-rays and barium to view the upper GI tract, including the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. The barium, which is swallowed, makes the lumen of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum visible on the x-rays.

Upper GI Series with Small Bowel Follow-Through X-ray
A small bowel follow-through x-ray requires additional time as compared with a traditional upper GI series in order for the barium to reach further into the small intestine. The barium, which is swallowed, makes the lumen of the small intestine visible on the x-rays.

Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography (PTC)
In this procedure, a thin needle is inserted through the skin and into the liver, and dye is injected to make the liver and bile ducts more visible on x-ray, and to see if they drain properly. Tissue samples can be taken and stents can be placed in narrowed bile ducts.

Defecography
Defecography is a video x-ray of the area around the anus and rectum. The rectum is filled with a soft paste that shows up on x-rays and feels like stool. As the patient strains to have a bowel movement next to an x-ray machine, the provider can look for problems.

Computed Tomography (CT) scan
This procedure uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to create multiple high-resolution cross-sectional images of internal organs and soft tissues. A special dye, called contrast medium, may be swallowed or injected to make certain lumens, vessels, organs, or structures more visible.

CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy)
This procedure uses CT technology to evaluate the colon and rectum. This only detects polyps that are greater than five millimeters in size, and does not allow for tissue sampling or removal.

CT Enterography
This procedure uses CT technology to evaluate the small intestine. This provides information about the small intestinal lumen as well as whether there is inflammation on the mucosal, or inner, surface of the intestines.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
This procedure uses a combination of radio waves and magnets to create images of internal organs and soft tissues.

Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)
This procedure is a type of MRI used to evaluate the bile ducts and pancreas.

MR Enterography
This procedure is a type of MRI used to evaluate the small intestine. This provides information about the small intestinal lumen as well as whether there is inflammation on the mucosal, or inner, surface of the intestines.

Cholescintigraphy (HIDA Scan)
This procedure is a nuclear imaging study used to evaluate the function of the gallbladder and diagnose obstruction of bile ducts.

Gastric Emptying Study
This procedure is a nuclear imaging study done to evaluate the ability of the stomach to empty.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
This test, often ordered with a CT scan, is very sensitive in detecting gastrointestinal cancer. A chemical called 18-flurodeoxyglucose, or FGD, is administered and tissues or areas containing cancer take up this chemical. This in turn leads to positive areas of uptake on images that are captured on film.