Barium Enema

What is Barium Enema

Barium enema is an X-ray test. It is used to check for problems in the colon or in the last part of the small bowel. The colon is also called the large intestine. For this test, a liquid called barium will be put into your colon.

The liquid shows up well on X-rays. This makes it easier to see problems. The test can help to find the cause of symptoms such as belly pain or blood in your poop (stools).

What happens before the procedure?

  • Follow instructions from your doctor about what you cannot eat or drink.
  • Ask your doctor about:
    • Changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is important if you take diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
    • Taking medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can thin your blood.Do nottake these medicines before your procedure if your doctor tells you not to.
  • Follow instructions from your doctor about bowel preparation. This may include:
    • Drinking a large amount of a liquid medicine. You will start doing this the day before the test. The liquid will cause you to have many loose poops (bowel movements). Your poop will become almost clear or light green. This cleans out your colon.
    • Using a suppository or an enema.

What happens during the procedure?

A small tube (catheter) will be put into your butt (rectum).

  • A small balloon on the tube will block the opening to your butt. This will keep the barium in the colon during the test.
  • Barium will be put through the tube.
  • The doctor will use X-rays to watch the barium as it moves through your body. It will move through the rectum, the colon, and into the small bowel.
  • You may need to change your position during the test.
  • Air may be put into the colon through the tube. This can help to get better X-rays.
  • The barium will be drained out of the colon.
  • You will be asked to go to the bathroom to get more barium out.
  • Another X-ray will be taken.

The procedure may vary among doctors and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • Do notdrive for 24 hours if you were given a medicine to help you relax.
  • Return to your normal activities and diet as told by your doctor.
  • It is your responsibility to get your test results. Ask your doctor when your results will be ready.

Barium Enema, Care After

What can I expect after the procedure?

After your procedure, it is common to have white or light-colored stools (feces) for a few days. Your stools will return to normal color when all of the barium has passed out of your body through your stool.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Do notdrive for 24 hours if you received a sedative.
  • Rest as needed. Return to your normal activities and your normal diet as told by your health care provider.
  • Check your stools to make sure that they return to normal color within a few days.
  • Follow instructions from your health care provider about how to prevent constipation and how to help remove the barium from your body. You may be told to:
    • Drink enough fluid to keep your urine clear or pale yellow.
    • Eat foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
    • Take a laxative as told by your health care provider.
  • Apply ointments to your anal area to soothe any discomfort as told by your health care provider.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You are constipated for more than 2 days.
  • Your stools still look white or chalky after 3 days.
  • You have pain or cramps in your abdomen.
  • Your abdomen is swollen.
  • You feel nauseous or you vomit.
  • You have a fever.

Get help right away if:

  • You pass blood from your rectum.
  • You have very bad constipation.
  • You cannot pass gas.
  • You have abdominal pain that gets worse.
  • You develop red, itchy hives on your skin.
  • Your throat swells.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You feel light-headed or you faint.
  • Your abdomen is very hard and bloated (distended).

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