A barium enema is an X-ray exam of the large intestine (colon). The lower GI uses a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy and a contrast material called barium or a water soluble iodinated contrast.
Fluoroscopy makes it possible to see internal organs in motion. When the lower gastrointestinal tract is filled with barium, the radiologist is able to view and assess the anatomy and function of the rectum, colon and sometimes part of the lower small intestine.
Preparing for your Exam-Before, During, After
- Your physician will provide you with preparation instruction prior to your exam.
- A radiologist and a technologist will administer the barium enema. The barium mixture fills the large intestine so that it can be seen on X-ray. The radiologist will watch the images of your intestine on a special X-ray television screen. At times, the radiologist will ask you to change your position or hold your breath so that images may be taken.
- After these images are taken, the technologist will take several larger films of your abdomen.
- The total procedure, including enema and X-ray, will take about one hour to complete.
- After the exam, please drink plenty of fluids to avoid constipation from the barium.
- Your primary care physician will discuss the results with you.