What is a Barium Enema?
A barium enema is a fluoroscopic examination of the large intestine, including the colon and rectum. These are made visible by a liquid suspension called barium. Water soluble contrast media is sometimes used instead of barium, such as when a leak is suspected. The contrast material or barium is infused through a tube inserted into the anorectal canal.
How do I prepare for the exam?
The goal of the barium enema prep is to empty your colon so that the exam is more accurate in distinguishing between normal and abnormal tissues. You will be asked to purchase three (3) Dulcolax tablets, one (1) Dulcolax suppository, and one (1) 10-ounce bottle magnesium citrate.
- On the day before your appointment, you should have clear liquids only after 6 p.m., including orange juice, apple juice, bouillon, ensure, coffee or tea without milk
- You should take one (1) Dulcolax tablet three (3) times in the evening prior to your exam, at 7, 7:30 and 8 p.m.
- At 9 p.m., you should drink drink one (1) 10-ounce bottle magnesium citrate
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight
- On the day of appointment at 7 a.m., take one (1) Dulcolax suppository
At the time of study, you will change into the hospital gown. You will be asked to remove jewelry or objects that may interfere with the procedure.
What can I expect during the exam?
After you have changed, the technologist will walk you to the fluoroscopy suite. The technologist will then explain the procedure in detail. Preliminary X-rays will be taken.
The radiologist comes and introduces him or herself, checks the preliminary X-rays, and then talks to you about medical history and discusses the indication of the examination.
You will be positioned on horizontal X-ray table that can tilt you from a horizontal to an upright position. A tube will be placed in your rectum and a balloon will be inflated to keep it in place. Barium will be infused into the tube. You will also be asked to change positions (for example, lying on your side, back, or stomach) at intervals during the procedure and multiple images will be taken.
What are aftercare instructions?
Barium can be constipating, so it is important to drink plenty of fluids to wash the barium out of your system. You can immediately resume your regular diet. Your stool may be whitish because of barium.
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