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Barium Enema

A barium enema is a kind of  x-ray imaging test ( 30-60 minutes’ procedure) to examine lower intestinal tract. It delivers barium solution into rectum through enema while efficient and quality X-ray images of the area are taken. 

WHY BARIUM ENEMA IS DONE? 

A barium enema rules out any abnormality of  lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract and helps resolving: 

  • diverticulitis & volvulus
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • polyps
  • rectal bleeding
  • ulcerative colitis
  • abdominal pain
  • blood stools
  • changes in bowel movements
  • crohn’s disease
  • chronic diarrhea
  • colorectal cancer

WHAT  HAPPENS DURING THE TEST? 

  • the patient is positioned on an x-ray table with his bowels empty
  • a tube is inserted into rectum
  • doctor monitors while barium mixture and some air flows through the tube into the colon
  • patient is asked to roll on his/her side 
  • cramping and pressure might be experienced 
  • patient must draw slow deep breaths to relax
  • x-rays are taken and the patient is asked to hold breath in between
  • the tube is removed 
  • patient directed to a toilet to empty the barium and air mixture from colon

PREPARING FOR A BARIUM ENEMA

Patient has to be empty stomach. Laxatives or enema might be advised to cleanse the bowels.

On the day of procedure, patient may consume clear liquids (water, tea, juice, or broth, etc)

After the Test 

  1. Patient resumes regular diet

  2. Advised drinking plenty of water and other liquids (02-03 days) 

  3. Avoid carbonated drinks 

  4. Consume diet comprising fruits, vegetables and whole grains

  5. Mild laxative might be prescribed to help removing remaining barium. 

  6. Results are categorized as negative or positive 

Negative- no abnormalities found

Positive-abnormalities found. Further testing required

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS OF A BARIUM ENEMA ? 

  • Allergy to barium is the most common risk factor of barium enema. Plus, any test involving radiation carries a slight risk of cancer. However, an accurate diagnosis outweighs the risks from the small amount of radiation. 
  • Pregnant women must avoid a Barium Enema.Radiation could harm an unborn child.
  • Contrast solution with iodine might be prescribed if there is a tear or perforation, in colon 
  • Other rare but possible complications may include:

-a perforated colon

-a tear in colon wall

-inflammation of the tissues around  colon

-obstruction of GI tract

Any difficulty or pain experienced with bowel movements, fever, or rectal bleeding or an absence of a bowel movement for 02-03  days after the barium enema, inability to pass gas must be brought to Doctor’s notice immediately.

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