DIAGNOSTIC information provided by plain radiographs of the gastrointestinal tract is often limited due to the relatively poor contrast between structures. The gastrointestinal tract anatomically comprises the oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, pancreas, mesentery and associated lymph nodes. Contrast radiography is less useful for the investigation of the pancreas, mesentery and lymph nodes. For the small animal practitioner, its value lies in its ability to provide information about the size, shape, position and mucosal surfaces of the oesophagus, stomach and intestines, and aid the detection of many structural lesions; in addition, it allows a crude evaluation of transit time. Contrast procedures are relatively simple to perform in practice although they can be time consuming and, hence, expensive. These techniques should not be embarked upon without considering the clinical indications and whether they are likely to yield diagnostic information. This article describes how to conduct and interpret contrast radiographic studies of the oesophagus, stomach and intestines.
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