Skip to content
Font Size

Barium Enema

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Stool or gas in the colon.
  • Muscle spasms in the colon wall.
  • Severe ulcerative colitis, toxic megacolon, acute diverticulitis, or a suspected perforation of the intestine.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Inability to remain still or to cooperate during the test.
  • Extreme obesity.
  • A barium swallow test (upper gastrointestinal series) done within a week before the test.

What To Think About

  • If your doctor thinks you have an abdominal mass, other tests may be needed before or after a barium enema. These include abdominal X-rays, ultrasound studies, and computed tomography (CT) scans.
  • If an upper gastrointestinal series is planned, it should be performed after the barium enema. The barium swallowed during an upper GI series may take several days to pass through the intestine and thus can interfere with the results of a barium enema.
  • A barium enema is not generally used to screen for colon cancer. Other tests are used instead.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology
Current as ofApril 16, 2013
1|2|3|4

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 16, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
 
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
 
top foods for probiotics
Slideshow
couple eating at cafe
Article
 
sick child
Slideshow
Woman blowing bubble gum
Slideshow
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Slideshow
Woman with stomach pain
Slideshow
 
diet for diverticulitis
Video
what causes diarrhea
Video