How To Prepare continued...
The preparation for a barium enema usually involves a very
thorough cleansing of the large intestine, because the colon must be completely
clear of stool and gas. Even a small amount of stool can affect the accuracy of
- For 1 to 3 days before the test, you will
usually be on a
clear liquid diet.
- On the day before the
- You should drink very large amounts of
noncarbonated clear liquids, unless your doctor has advised you not
- You will then take a combination of laxatives to empty your
- You may be asked to take a tap water
enema to clean any remaining stool from your
- On the day of the test, you may need to repeat
the enema until the liquid that passes is free of any stool particles.
rectal suppository or a commercially prepared enema,
such as a Fleet enema, is used instead of a tap water enema.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding
the need for this test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results
will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
During the test
To make the intestine visible on an
X-ray picture, the colon is filled with a contrast material containing barium.
This is done by pouring the contrast material through a tube inserted into the
anus. The barium blocks X-rays, causing the
barium-filled colon to show up clearly on the X-ray picture.
- You will lie on the X-ray table while a
preliminary X-ray film is taken.
- While you are
lying on your side , a well-lubricated enema tube will be inserted gently into
your rectum. The barium contrast material is then allowed to flow slowly into
- A small balloon on the enema tip may be inflated to
help you hold in the barium. Tightening your anal sphincter muscle (as if you
were trying to hold back a bowel movement) against the tube and taking slow,
deep breaths may also help.
- Occasionally, you may be given an
injection of medicine to relieve the cramping.