The preparations for a barium enema are extremely important and quite specific. Please follow them exactly to avoid the possibility of having to repeat the exam.
If you are on a prescribed medication, please consult with your physician about whether or not it should be taken on the morning of the exam.
The procedure uses an x-ray technology called digital fluoroscopy to capture both still pictures and a real time view of the bowel in action. It takes from 10 to 30 minutes to complete. You will be asked to change into a gown and recline on a table. Your technologist will ask a series of questions about why you are having the exam. This background information provides very important historical reference to the radiologist who will be supervising your procedure and later interpreting your exam.
Barium is a radio-opaque liquid which provides a white appearance on x-rays. As it moves through the bowel the radiologist is able to track the path of the bowel, interpreting size, location and direction.
To begin the exam, your technologist will gently insert a tube two to three inches into the rectum. Barium is slowly administered through the tube by an IV-like bag. During this process, the radiologist will watch the barium’s transit on a monitor. You will be asked to turn several times to speed the barium’s progress through the curves of the intestine.
As the colon fills, it is not uncommon to experience mild spasms or a full feeling. Your radiologist will see these changes and make adjustments to relieve your discomfort. When you are completely full, the radiologist will complete the imaging and you’ll be allowed to go immediately to the bathroom.
After the Exam
There are no side effects to the procedure and you can return to work or normal activity immediately. It is important to drink extra fluids to flush the system of any remaining barium.
Your films will be reviewed and interpreted by the radiologist who conducted your exam and the results sent directly to your physician. Our goal is to provide your physician with a report within 24 hours of the examination.
The actual results of your exam will be given to you by your doctor who will compare your test results against his or her own clinical findings to provide you with a clear picture of your overall health.Return to top