Barium Enema

A Barium Enema is a screening procedure used to look at the large bowel (large colon). The examination uses a x-ray contrast called Barium to coat the bowel and demonstrate anatomical structures. A Barium Enema can be referred by a doctor in the diagnosis and management of a variety of different large bowel conditions. As there are many reasons you need to speak to your referring doctor about why you need a Barium Enema.

The Procedure

  • A member of staff will explain the procedure and answer any questions that you may have.
  • You will be taken to a change room, asked to remove all your clothes and jewellery and wear a x-ray gown.
  • You will lie on your side on the x-ray table, a small tube about the side of your finger is placed about 5cm into your rectum.
  • You may be given an injection of a drug that relaxes your bowel. This lasts about 15-20min and may result in some blurred vision. If you experience any symptoms then please speak to the radiologist performing the exam.
  • The Radiologist runs a mixture of Barium and air into your bowel. You may be asked to lie in a number of positions to ensure that the contrast reaches all parts of your bowel.
  • A number of x-rays are taken to ensure that all parts of the large bowel can be seen.
  • At the end of the exam the majority of the Barium is drained from your bowel. The tube is then removed and you will be able to go to the toilet.
  • After the examination it is advisable to drink plenty of water and more roughage for a few days to help clear the residual barium, a mild laxative may be required.
  • The examination can take between 30-40 minutes to complete.

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