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SBFT (Small Bowel Follow Through)

What is a Small Bowel Follow Through?

A small bowel follow-through, also called small bowel series, is a radiologic examination of the small intestine. The small intestine begins at the duodenum (just past the stomach) and ends at the ileocecal valve (at the junction with the large intestine/colon).

What is the prep for the SBFT?

Nothing to eat or drink from midnight the day before the exam if the appointment time is in the morning. If the appointment time is in the afternoon, nothing to eat or drink for at least 8 hours prior to the appt time.

How is the procedure done?

The study is done while you are drinking barium. The barium appears white on X-rays, and shows the outline of the internal lining of the small bowel. An X-ray is taken every 30 minutes tracking the progression of the barium. It will be necessary to drink 1 cup of barium after each X-ray until it has progressed through the small bowel and enters the large intestine. Once the barium has entered the large intestine, you will be taken to the fluoroscopy room and a few more X-rays are taken of the ileocecal valve. This is one of the most common places for pathology of the bowel to be found; therefore imaging of this structure is crucial.

The amount of barium varies from patient to patient. The bowel motility also varies from patient to patient; the average test length is approximately 2-4 hours.

The barium is non-toxic and passed out normally as stool, although the appearance may be paler than usual.

When may I resume my normal diet?

As soon as the study is complete, you may resume your normal diet. You should drink plenty of fluids to avoid being constipated.