Barium Enema

Barium Enema

Barium Enema


To evaluate the large bowel for abnormalities such as inflammation or growths. This procedure has been largely replaced by CT colonography which has a lower radiation dose to the patient and far surpasses barium enema in detecting colonic polyps.


As the lining of the large bowel must be clean, you will be asked to drink only clear fluids for the 24hrs prior to examination. On the evening before the examination, a relatively strong laxative will be given and this should cause diarrhoea. The laxative and instructions will be issued by the x-ray department and carefully explained.
If you are pregnant, it is important to inform the radiographer before you have any X-rays taken.


This usually takes approximately 30 minutes. A plastic finger sized catheter will be placed in the rectum and a balloon inflated for retention. A Barium solution will flow from a bag into the large bowel. You will be asked to turn in varying directions to assist passage of the Barium throughout the large bowel.

A small intravenous injection is usually given to prevent bowel spasm and improve distention with air. Several images will be obtained in varying positions. You may experience mild bloating and discomfort during the examination, but this usually doesn’t last long.

After Procedure

Immediately after the procedure you will be sent to the toilet to evacuate most of the residual Barium and the air that has been inserted. However, this is never complete and you may require to visit the toilet more frequently during the course of the day.

You may experience some cramps after the procedure, but this should not interfere with your normal activities.

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