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Exam Explanation

A barium enema involves filling the large intestine with diluted barium liquid while X-ray images are being taken. Barium enemas are used to diagnose disorders of the large intestine and rectum. These disorders may include colonic tumors, polyps, diverticula and anatomical abnormalities.

Exam Preparation

The patient may be asked to do the following in preparation for a barium enema:

  • Drink clear liquids the day before the examination.
  • Take a laxative, suppository or drug to cleanse the bowel.
  • Refrain from eating and drinking after midnight on the night before the examination.

During the Exam

The patient will be positioned on an examination table. A rectal tube will be inserted into the rectum to allow the barium to flow into the intestine. During the procedure, the machine and table will move and the patient may be asked to change positions. Additional X-rays will be made immediately after the procedure in order to obtain more information.