Barium Enema

Barium enema is a special x-ray of the large intestine, which includes the colon and rectum.

Image from John Setzler flickr

This test may be done in a hospital or clinic. The patient lies on the X-ray table and a preliminary X-ray is taken. The patient is then asked to lie on the side while a well lubricated enema tube is inserted into the rectum.  As the enema enters the body, the patient might have the sensation that they have to have a bowel movement. The barium sulfate, a radiopaque (shows up on X- ray) contrast medium, is then allowed to flow into the colon. A small balloon at the tip of the enema tube may be inflated to help keep the barium sulfate inside. The flow of the barium sulfate is monitored by the health care provider on an X-ray fluoroscope screen (like a TV monitor). Air may be puffed into the colon to distend it and provide better images (often called a “double-contrast” exam). If air is used, the enema tube will be reinserted (if it had been removed; whether it is depends on who does the exam) and a small amount of air will be introduced into the colon, and more X-ray pictures are taken. (from wikipedia)

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