Barium enema is a special
Lower gastrointestinal series; Lower GI series
How the test is performed
This test may be done in a doctor's office or hospital radiology department. It is done after the colon is completely empty. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to empty the colon.
You will lie flat on your back on the x-ray table and an x-ray will be taken.
- You will then be told to lie on your side. The health care provider will gently insert a well-lubricated tube (enema tube) into your rectum. The tube is connected to a bag that holds a liquid containing barium sulfate. It is placed in the rectum.
- The liquid is a type of contrast material that highlights specific areas in the body, creating a clearer image. The barium flows into your colon, and eventually passes out of your body with your stools.
A small balloon at the tip of the enema tube may be inflated to help keep the barium inside your colon. The health care provider will monitor the flow of the barium on an x-ray fluoroscope screen, which is like a TV monitor.
There are two types of barium enemas:
- Single contrast barium enema uses barium to highlight your large intestine.
- Double contrast barium enema uses barium, but also delivers air into the colon to expand it. This allows for even better images.
Review Date: 12/14/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.