Barium Enema

A basic examination of the gastrointestinal tract


A barium enema is an x-ray study of the large bowel (colon). A liquid contrast (barium) is introduced into the large intestine via the rectum and coats the lining of bowel so that it can be visualized on x-rays.

Please remember to bring all previous x-rays with you to your appointment.


For the study to work, the entire large intestine must be clean and free of all fecal material. Therefore, it is very important that you follow the instructions given to you by our staff very carefully. If the bowel is not cleaned out sufficiently, the study may have to be repeated. Please contact our clinic to arrange your appointment and to obtain the details of your preparation.
The whole examination usually takes approximately 30 minutes. Before the examination you will be asked to lie on the x-ray table and a flexible lubricated enema tube will be inserted into your back passage and taped into place. The barium is then slowly introduced into the large bowel. The Radiologist watches the passage of the barium on a viewing screen. Often a small injection into one of the veins of your arm will be given to relax your bowel. This may cause temporary blurring of vision (you should not drive a car until your vision has returned to normal). Once the introduction of the barium is completed the doctor will then add some air through the tube. This causes a "bubbling" sensation. It is important to retain the barium and air until the end of the examination. You will be placed in different positions on the x-ray table and x-ray images will be taken of the large bowel. After the barium enema, drinking plenty of fluids will help you to mild the constipating effect of the barium. Your bowel actions may be white for some days following the procedure. This is completely normal.