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This page is for information purposes only. For advice and specific questions please contact your primary care or referring physician.
A barium enema or lower gastrointestinal (GI) examination is an X-ray study used to detect changes or abnormalities in your colon. During the exam a liquid barium and in some cases air is inserted into your colon through your rectum.
Pediatric patients (excepting children over 140 pounds) will be given individual instructions for preparation by their physician and/or radiologist.
Your colon must be clean before this study can be done. You will need to obtain a Fleet Prep Kit #2 available over the counter at any pharmacy. Follow the instructions inside the kit. You will need to have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the day before the examination. View the full prep sheet.
- You will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
- The technologist will take an X-ray of your abdomen to make sure your colon is clean before the exam is started.
- The technologist will then insert an enema tip into your rectum. This is a special tip that will help you hold the barium enema. The radiologist will observe as the barium is introduced into your colon through the enema tip.
- You will be asked to turn from side-to-side to help coat the colon with barium.
- If you are having an air contrast enema, the barium is let back into the bag and air is introduced through the enema tip. Once the colon is coated and the radiologist has taken spot films while he watches your colon fill, the technologist will then take a series of films of your colon.
- When these films have been completed and checked by the radiologist, you will then be taken to a nearby bathroom to expel the remaining barium.
- The barium will make your stools white for a few days. This is normal. You should drink plenty of fluids the next few days to get rid of any remaining barium. The radiologist will send a report of his findings to your physician.
- A mild laxative may be taken for constipation.
If you are of child bearing age and think there is any possibility of pregnancy it is important that you inform the physician ordering these x-rays and tell the technologist taking your x-rays. If you have any known allergies to contrast, iodine, or foods please inform your physician BEFORE proceeding with any of the instructions that follow.