WHAT IS A BARIUM ENEMA (BE)?
A barium enema is an x-ray examination of the colon. Barium is a thick white liquid that shows up on x-rays. The tissues of the digestive system are difficult to see on x-rays, so barium is used to coat the lining of the digestive system.
WHY DID THE DOCTOR ORDER THIS EXAM FOR ME?
Diarrhea, blood in the stools, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, unexplained weight loss, change in bowel habits, or unexplained abdomen pain are all common reasons to undergo a barium enema.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO PREPARE FOR THE EXAM?
Your doctor should give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for your barium enema. You will likely be asked to eat and drink only clear fluids
on the day before the exam. You will also most likely be asked to take a laxative the day and evening before the exam. Please follow your doctor's instructions.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT WHEN I ARRIVE AT THE HOSPITAL?
You will first need to check in and register at the Radiology Registration desk. To access Radiology Registration from the hospital's main entrance, follow the red line on the floor. At time of registration you will be asked to update your personal and insurance information. Once you are registered, you may be given a pager and asked to sit in a waiting area. A technologist will page you and take you to a changing room where you will get dressed for your exam. You will need to put on a hospital gown and robe. The technologist will then take you to the exam room.
WHO WILL BE IN THE EXAM ROOM WITH ME?
During your exam, there will be an x-ray technologist and a Radiologist (a doctor specialized in x-rays). If the patient is child, a parent or guardian also may be in the room. There may also be a student from the Radiology School in the room assisting the technologist.
WHAT WILL I EXPERIENCE DURING THE EXAM?
The technologist will ask you some questions regarding your medical history and the problems that you are experiencing. The technologist will explain the exam to you and make sure all of your questions are answered. The exam will begin when the Radiologist enters the room. He/she may ask you more detailed questions about your history. The Radiologist may do a brief rectal exam before placing an enema tube into your rectum. The tube is a small flexible plastic tube that will allow the barium to travel into your colon. During this time, you may experience some pressure but it should not be painful. The barium may make you feel as if you need to have a bowel movement. Your abdomen may become distended. This is normal and will subside. The Radiologist may also introduce air into your colon through the same enema tube. The Radiologist will take multiple x-rays with you moving into different positions to coat all the surfaces of your colon. When the Radiologist has finished with his/her portion of the exam, then the technologist will take a series of x-rays. After all the x-rays are completed, the barium will be drained out and you will be able to go to the restroom to expel the remainder of the barium.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO AFTER THE EXAM?
You can resume normal eating and drinking and return to normal activities. You may notice that your stools are white for several days. That is normal and will go away after all the barium is out of your system. You will be instructed to drink plenty of fluids for 2-3 days following your exam to help eliminate the barium. Should you have any problems with constipation, a mild laxative can be taken.
WHEN WILL I GET MY RESULTS?
The results will be available at your doctor's office within 2-3 days. Some doctors will schedule an appointment with you to give you the results. If you do not have an appointment, please call your doctor's office for your results. If you have any
problems receiving your results, you can call the Radiology Department for assistance.