What Is a Barium Enema?
A barium enema is an x-ray exam of your large intestine and colon (the lower intestines). The barium enema uses a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and a liquid contrast dye (barium) that is given through a tube inserted into your rectum. Fluoroscopy makes it possible to see internal organs in motion. When the lower intestinal tract is filled with barium, the radiologist is able to view and assess the anatomy and function of the rectum and large intestine for problems such as blockages, tumors, polyps, or other disorders.
Before the Barium Enema
- Please obtain from the radiology department the “Patient Preparation Instructions for Barium Enema” at least 2 days before your exam. This provides the laxatives and eating instructions necessary to prepare for the exam.
- Report any allergies to the radiology technologist, especially those to iodine contrast (x-ray dye).
- Women should always inform the x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation.
During the Enema
- A tube is inserted into your rectum.
- Your colon is filled with barium (a liquid that improves the x-ray images).
- You will feel like you need to go to the bathroom. Do your best to hold it in.
- You will be asked to move into different positions and hold your breath while x-rays are taken.
- Pressure may be applied to your belly to get the best images.
- Additional x-rays may be taken after you go to the bathroom.
Potential Risks and Complications
- There is a slight chance that some barium could be retained, leading to a blockage of the digestive system.
- Problems due to iodine contrast, including allergic reaction or kidney damage
After the Barium Enema
- Drink plenty of water to relieve constipation you may have after the test.
- Your stool may appear white or lighter than normal for a day or two.
- If any further questions or complications arise and you do not know what to do, please call the radiology department at Summit Healthcare at (928) 537-4375, ext. 6332.
- A report from today’s exam will be sent to your doctor within 24 hours.