Barium enema

What is a Barium Enema?

A Barium Enema is a medical test used to scan a person's bowel. It's a type of X-ray imaging that involves a liquid dye called barium sulfate being inserted into the intestines. This dye coats the lining of the large intestine, which makes the area visible on X-rays.


Before a Barium Enema, the patient should avoid eating or drinking anything for 6-8 hours beforehand. This will help clear the bowel of any contents so that the barium sulfate can properly coat the lining of the large intestine for imaging. The patient may be asked to take an enema from a container or shower before the procedure.


The patient will be placed lying on their left side in the X-ray room. A flexible tube will be inserted into the anus and the barium sulfate will be inserted through the tube. The patient may be asked to roll over or move in different positions to help the barium move around the large intestine. The radiology technician will take X-rays of the patient during the procedure to track the movement of the barium.


There are two main types of Barium Enemas: single contrast and double contrast. single contrast involves injecting only the barium sulfate. This type of Barium Enema is used to detect blockages of the large intestine such as tumors or polyps. Double contrast involves injecting both air and barium sulfate. This type of Barium Enema is used to detect tiny abnormalities such as ulcers or small tumors that may not be detected by a single contrast Barium Enema.


Some risks associated with Barium Enemas include abdominal cramping and bloating due to the barium, dehydration, and allergic reactions to the barium or the medications used during the procedure. Additionally, there is a small risk of the barium entering the lungs, which can lead to a collapsed lung or pneumonia.

Why is a Barium Enema Necessary?

Barium Enemas are used to diagnose and detect a variety of conditions, including tumors, polyps, ulcers, diverticular disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

When to Get a Barium Enema?

Barium Enemas are usually recommended when other imaging methods such as traditional X-rays or CT scans are not able to clearly see the large intestine. It can also be used to check for abnormalities found during other tests such as an endoscopy.