What is a Barium Enema?
A barium enema is a fluoroscopic X-ray study ("live" dynamic imaging that is viewed on a monitor in real time) that visualizes your large bowel and rectum.
A barium-sulfate solution, sometimes accompanied with air, is introduced into the colon through a small tube inserted into the rectum. The barium solution allows visualization of the large intestine on an x-ray monitor.
How do I prepare for the exam?
Patients arriving for a barium enema must follow the strict guidelines below. Inadequate preparation for the exam will often require re-scheduling.
You will need to purchase HalfLytely® and Bisacodyl Tablet Bowel Prep Kit from a local drugstore to prepare your bowel for this exam. Please follow the instructions below combined with the instructions on the kit to ensure best results.
Day Before the Procedure
Morning: You may have a light breakfast the day before the procedure, or you may just drink clear liquids.
Noon: Start the prep by following the instructions on the kit purchased.
Lunch should consist of clear liquids only (water or juices such as cranberry or apple). Do not take any milk products.
Evening: Dinner should consist of clear liquids only (water or juices such as cranberry or apple). Do not take any milk products.
You may have water until midnight. After midnight, you should not have anything to eat or drink.
Day of the Procedure
Morning medications can be taken with a small amount of water. Please do not take calcium tablets until after the procedure is completed. If you have any questions before the exam, please call the Department at 617-243-6076.
What will happen during the exam?
You will be asked to undress and change into a hospital gown. Preliminary X-rays of your abdomen will be taken to ensure that your preparation was adequate. A radiographer will place an enema tip into your rectum while you are lying on your left side on the radiographic table. The radiologist will oversee the administration of the barium-sulfate suspension into your large bowel.
You will be asked to maneuver into various positions during the study. A number of fluoroscopic images of your large bowel will be taken. Sometimes air is introduced into the bowel to help the radiologist visualize the anatomy better.
After the fluoroscopic images are acquired, the radiologist will direct the radiographer to obtain additional radiographic images. This will require additional maneuvering of the patient into various positions. Once the imaging is complete the enema will be drained and you will be escorted to a private restroom for further evacuation of the enema.
How long will the procedure take?
This exam takes approximately 45-60 minutes to perform. It should not be painful, although you will experience bowel discomfort and the need to have a bowel movement.
How will I get my results?
You will get the results from your doctor
Find a Doctor
Find primary care physicians and specialists.
Free Post-Marathon Athlete Injury ClinicsCome to our free injury clinics for the diagnosis and treatment of injuries or illnesses that are the result of participating in the Boston Marathon.
Learn More >
Wellness Classes Offered Throughout the YearDid you know we offer Pilates, Zumba, Yoga and other wellness classes year-round? Sign up now.
Learn More >