Barium Enema

If you have issues in your intestines, like abnormal growths, ulcers, or diverticulitis, your doctors may want to see what's going on inside of you. One way they can do that is with a barium enema.

A barium enema is a kind of X-ray scan. Using the barium, we can get a better view of the inside of your intestines on the X-ray scan. Barium is a milky fluid. For the procedure, we'll put the barium inside of you using an enema (fluid is passed into you through your rectum).

A barium enema helps us find polyps, cancers, swollen intestines, and other abdominal issues.

Your Barium Enema: What to Expect

Tell your doctor if you're allergic to either latex or barium.

Your intestines must be empty before a barium enema. Your care team will go over with you how to prepare for it.

During a Barium Enema

The test last about 1-2 hours. When we give you the enema, you may feel some discomfort, bloating, or severe cramping. You may also feel like you need to pass stool. 

The enema is put into your rectum and the barium passes into you. The enema has a small balloon that helps keep the barium inside. We'll ask you to move several times to have the barium coat the walls of your colon and rectum.

A small amount of air will be inserted through the enema. We'll then take a series of X-rays. After this, the enema is removed.

After the Barium Enema

After the test, you:

  • Go to the bathroom to pass the barium 
  • Should drink lots of water
  • Wait some time in case you have abdominal cramping 
  • Can eat your regular diet (unless your doctor says otherwise)
  • Can do your regular activities when you feel ready
  • May have white or gray stools for 2-3 days after 

Call your doctor if afterward you have:

  • Severe pain
  • Can't pass gas or stool 2 or more days after the exam, or have blood in your stool
  • Bloating

Your doctor will go over the results of the barium enema with you.