Barium Enema

Introduction

A barium enema is an x-ray study of the large bowel (colon). A liquid contrast (barium) is introduced into the large intestine via the rectum and coats the lining of bowel so that it can be visualised on x-rays.

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Preparation

For the study to work the entire large intestine must be clean and free of all faecal material. Therefore, it is very important that you follow the instructions given to you by our staff very carefully. If the bowel is not cleaned out sufficiently, the study may have to be repeated. Please contact one of our clinics to arrange your appointment and to obtain the details of your preparation.

Two days before examination

You must stop eating all fruits including: fruit yoghurts, nuts plus any food containing fruits.

One day before examination

No solid foods, no milk or milk products allowed. Drink only *approved clear liquids for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  1. First dose 5:00pm

    Mix sachet of ColonLYTELY with 1 litre of water. Over the next hour or so, drink a glassful of this solution every 10 to 15 minutes. If you feel nauseated or bloated, slow down and drink a glassful every 20 minutes, until it has been completed. You will have loose motions within 1 to 3 hours.

  2. Second dose 6:00pm

    Add the entire contents of ONE sachet of PICOLAX into a glassful (approximately 120mls) of chilled water. Stir until effervescence ceases. Drink the mixture gradually and completely. This can be followed by as many glassfuls of water or *approved clear fluids as desired in order to satisfy thirst.

  3. Third dose 7:00pm

    Add the entire contents of ONE sachet of PICOLAX into a glassful (approximately 120mls) of chilled water. Stir until effervescence ceases. Drink the mixture gradually and completely. This can be followed by as many glassfuls of water or *approved clear fluids as desired in order to satisfy thirst. This preparation may cause multiple bowel movements. It usually induces frequent, loose bowel movements within only 3 hours of taking a dose. Please remain within easy reach of toilet facilities. Some intestinal cramping is normal. Drink only *approved clear fluids for dinner.

Day of examination

From midnight, sips of clear fluid can be taken to quench thirst.

Approved clear fluids:

  • water
  • clear fruit juices (apple)
  • jelly
  • black tea or coffee (no milk)
  • bonox
  • lucozade
  • barley sugar
  • fruit cordials
  • clear broth or clear bouillon.

Unless you are a diabetic, please have barley sugar, liquid glucose or some form of sugar drink during this preparation. Individual responses to laxatives do vary.

Procedure

Before the examination you will be asked to lie on the x-ray table and a flexible lubricated enema tube will be inserted into your back passage by the nurse and taped into place.  The barium is then slowly introduced into the large bowel.

The Doctor (Radiologist) watches the passage of the barium on a viewing screen. Often a small injection into one of the veins of your arm will be given to relax your bowel. This may cause temporary blurring of vision. You should not drive a car until your vision has returned to normal.

Once the introduction of the barium is completed the doctor will then add some air through the tube. This causes a “bubbling” sensation. It is important to retain the barium and air until the end of the examination. You will be placed in different positions on the x-ray table and x-ray images will be taken of the large bowel.

How long will the procedure take?

The whole examination usually takes approximately 30 minutes.

After the Barium Enema

Barium passes quickly through the large bowel. Drinking plenty of fluids will help to remove it. You will be given a mild laxative to take home with you to overcome the constipating effect of the barium. Your bowel actions may be white for some days following the procedure. This is completely normal.

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