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A Barium Enema is an x-ray of the lower portion of your digestive tract, which includes the colon and large intestine. A contrast agent called barium is used to outline and define the folds of the lower intestinal tract. A Barium Enema is performed by a radiologist who is assisted by a radiological technologist. The equipment used to track the barium as it moves through your lower intestinal tract is called a fluoroscope.

Barium enema

What to Expect

This exam requires that you remove your clothing and wear a gown. You will be asked to lie on your side so a lubricated enema tip can be inserted into your rectum. The barium will be released into your bowel so your colon can be imaged. Please inform the technologist if you have trouble holding an enema. Using the fluoroscope, the radiologist can observe the barium filling your colon. From time to time you will be asked to hold different positions and move from side to side. While the radiologist examines the images you will be allowed to go to the bathroom to relieve yourself of the barium. On some occasions more x-rays are required for the radiologist to review.


At least two days prior to your exam, purchase a colon preparation kit (Evac-Q-Kwik, Nulytely or Golytely) at your local pharmacy. You are to follow the complete instructions included with this kit. After the exam, we suggest you drink plenty of fluids to rinse out the barium. Fruit juices are recommended if allowed in your diet.

How Long?

The length of the exam may vary. Allow at least one hour for this exam.
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