What is a Barium Enema? A Barium Enema is an examination of your large bowel and rectum. A small tube is inserted into your back passage and a fluid called Barium is run through the tube into your bowel. It is not a painful procedure, however, you might experience a little discomfort and a full feeling. In order to obtain clear pictures, air is also run through the tube, which can make you feel as though you have wind.
Will I need to undress? You will be asked to undress completely and wear a special gown. If you prefer, you can keep your pants on until you are taken into the X-ray room.
Will I need an injection? There is a possibility that you will be given an injection to relax the bowel just before the air is introduced. This may give you a dry mouth and blur your vision for a little while. You will be asked to wait until the blurred vision has passed before you go home (30 minutes at the most).
How long will it take? Everyone is different. The average time that you will be in the department is 1 hour. However, the examination itself only takes about 20 to 30 minutes.
Who will do my Barium Enema? A Radiographer, A Nurse (who will explain the procedure to you), and a Radiologist, who is a Doctor specialising in X-rays and Imaging work.
What else will happen? You will be asked to lie on a table on your left-hand side whilst the tube is introduced into your back passage. The Radiologist will gently fill your bowel with the Barium (and the air if necessary), whilst watching on the television screen. The Radiologist will ask you to turn to the left or right, front or back, in order to help the Barium flow around the bowel and also to take different pictures in different positions.
You will be asked to hold your breath when the pictures are taken. Do not worry if you cannot turn quickly; the Radiographer and Nurse will help and look after you. When the Barium has outlined all your large bowel, the Radiographer will take further pictures.
When all the films required have been taken, some of the Barium and air will be drained away through the tube before it is taken out. This is to make you comfortable before going to the toilet. Further pictures may be required after you have been to the toilet, possibly in a different X-ray room.
Now it’s all over, what do I have to do? Barium has a tendency to constipate, so its important to drink plenty, and to eat fruit and vegetables to keep your system ‘on the move’. You will find that you will be passing white or yellow motions. Do not worry, this is the Barium.