Hospitals preparation for a barium enema

Hospitals preparation for a barium enema

Each hospital has its own preparation for a barium enema that should be available from the department of radiology. Preparations generally include (1) a period during which solid food is limited in an effort to reduce undigested material reaching the colon, (2) an oral laxative, and (3) a medication that induces colonic contraction. The preparation at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania includes the following:

  • • Clear liquids only are allowed the day before the examination.
  • • At 5 PM the day before the examination, 10 to 16 oz of magnesium citrate is given.
  • • The patient should drink at least three to four 8 oz glasses of water throughout the day of the examination to maintain hydration.
  • • At 10 PM the evening before the examination, four 5 mg bisacodyl tablets are taken with 8 oz of water.
  • • The patient should have nothing by mouth after midnight the night before until after the examination.
  • • The patient is given a bisacodyl suppository the morning of the examination.
  • • Insulin dose is reduced or eliminated the morning of the examination.
  • • After the examination, patients are encouraged to drink water and take laxatives if they have colonic hypomotility.

At our hospital, we do not use large-volume colonic lavage agents that are used for colonoscopy because they leave large amounts of fluid in the colon that degrade barium coating of the mucosa. Cleansing enemas are discouraged because they push fecal residue into the right colon and leave residual fluid in the colon.


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