Complications of barium enema

Complications of barium enema examination?

  • • The examination may fail to image the entire colon if the patient has colonic spasm or poor sphincter tone and is unable to retain barium or air.
  • • Distention of the colon may cause the patient to complain of cramps, but it rarely produces syncope.
  • • Colonic perforation occurs in about 1 in 40,000 examinations. Perforation is usually retroperitoneal and related to distention of a rectal balloon. If a free intraperitoneal perforation occurs, it is usually in a patient who has severe colitis or ischemia. In contrast to the rarity of barium enema perforation, perforation occurs in about 1 in 1000 colonoscopies.
  • • Rarely, barium impaction occurs in patients who have colonic hypomotility, such as bedridden patients, patients taking narcotics or other drugs that cause hypomotility, and diabetic patients. Barium impaction can be prevented, in part, by having patients take oral laxatives after the procedure.
  • • Allergic reactions to the barium, glucagon, or colonic preparation are rare but have been reported. Although allergic reactions to latex in barium enema balloons have occurred, the manufacturers have removed the latex from the balloons attached to the enema tips.
  • • Rarely, patients develop myocardial ischemia during a barium enema examination.

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