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Barium Enema

Barium Enema

What is it? 

Barium enema, or lower gastrointestinal series, is a series of X-rays of your lower gastrointestinal system.

What Happens During the Test?

First, a preliminary X-ray is taken. You are asked to lie on your side while a well-lubricated enema tube is inserted gently into your rectum. The barium, 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 inside. The flow of barium is monitored by the health care provider on a X-ray fluoroscope screen (a device similar to a TV monitor.) You are asked to move into different positions and the table is slightly tipped to get different views. While the X-rays are taken, you are asked to hold your breath and remain still. The enema tube is removed after the pictures are taken and you are given a bedpan or helped to the toilet. You then expel as much of the barium as possible. One or two X-rays may be taken after the barium is expelled. Once the radiologist has had a chance to look at the X-rays taken, a report will be given to your doctor so that he or she may discuss the results of your test with you.

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