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.
spasms in the colon wall.
A rapid, irregular
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.
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
A barium enema may be used to screen for
colon cancer. Other tests are used more often to screen for colon cancer. This test
is less expensive and has fewer risks than
sigmoidoscopy. And it does not require sedation. But
small colon polyps are more likely to be missed during a barium enema. For more
information, see the topics Stool Tests for Colorectal Cancer,
Colonoscopy, Sigmoidoscopy, and Virtual Colonoscopy.
Other Works Consulted
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008).
Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis:
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.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology
April 25, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
April 25, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this
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