Colon & Large Intestine Study (Barium Enema)

What: A physician may order a lower GI examination to detect:

  • benign tumors (such as polyps)
  • cancer
  • signs of other intestinal illnesses

The procedure is frequently performed to help diagnose symptoms such as:

  • chronic diarrhea
  • blood in stools
  • constipation
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • unexplained weight loss
  • a change in bowel habits
  • suspected blood loss

Images of the bowel and colon are also used to diagnose inflammatory bowel disease, a group of disorders that includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

What to expect: During your study, barium will be introduced into your colon via an enema tip inserted into your rectum. A small balloon on the enema tip will be inflated to help prevent you from moving your bowels. You will feel like you need to go to the bathroom. You will be asked to shift your position and hold your breath a few times while the X-rays are taken. During the imaging process, pressure may be applied to your stomach; this helps to get the best images. Air may also be added to the enema to enhance the images. At the end of the study, you will be able to go to the bathroom.

Prep: Click on this link to see "Patient Prep Instructions for Fluoroscopy Colon Exam"

Safety notes: Please notify our scheduling department and technologists if you:

  • Are diabetic.
  • Believe you may be pregnant.
  • Have had any previous surgery in the abdomen.
  • Had a recent colonoscopy, and if polyps were removed.
  • What were findings of your colonoscopy.
  • Have had anything to drink or eat before the test.
  • Are passing any solids the day of the exam.