A barium enema is an x-ray procedure that uses barium to enable the radiologist to study your colon.
Barium is a white liquid that allows the colon to be visualized on x-ray film. The radiologist interprets the x-ray and reports the results to your doctor, who will than review the results with you.
Usually, a barium enema is an outpatient procedure that typically takes approximately 30-45 minutes. If you know you have any allergy, are taking prescription medications, or are of childbearing age and think you may be pregnant, please inform your doctor and the radiologist prior to the procedure.
A radiologist performs the exam with a fluoroscope. You will lie down on the x-ray table and the technologist will insert a thin, flexible tube into your rectum so the barium can flow into the colon. Air may also be administered into the colon.
During the procedure, you may feel cramping and a sensation of fullness in your abdomen. Slow, deep breaths will help you relax. The machine and x-ray table will move and you will be asked to roll in various positions. After the fluoroscopic exam, additional radiographs will be taken.
After the procedure:
After the films are reviewed by the radiologist, you will go to the restroom to expel the barium and air. Another set of films will be taken after you have used the restroom.
After the procedure, at home, you may return to your normal diet, as directed by your physician. The barium should normally pass through your colon, although your physician may prescribe a laxative. If you do not have a bowel movement in three days, contact your physician.