A Barium Enema is a series of x-rays that provide the radiologist with information about the lower intestinal tract, a part of the digestive system.

This test requires that you follow the specific preparation instructions below prior to your exam.

The Day Before Examination

  • If you take medication for diabetes, please contact your physician for further instructions since your diet will be restricted.
  • Do not eat. Drink only clear liquids.
  • If your physician approves, you may have the following: Water, Cranberry Juice, Coffee, Clear Broth, Tea, Jello, Pop, Ginger Ale, Apple Juice, Popsicles
  • At 1:00 p.m. begin to follow the instructions on the LO-SO Prep Bowel Cleansing System that you were given.

The Day of Examination

  • No food or liquids (including water)
  • At 7:00 a.m. follow the directions for the suppository in the LO-SO Prep kit.
  • Make sure to bring your prescription with you to your appointment.
  • Report directly to the Medical Imaging Department on the Third Floor of St. Clair Hospital
  • Plan on being in the department for approximately 1.5 hours

In the Department

  • You will be asked to change into a special wrap-around gown.
  • You will lie on your left side on the x-ray table and will be given a barium enema solution which allows the large intestine to be seen on the x-ray.
  • The enema is given by inserting a tube into the rectum and filling the pre-cleansed bowel with the barium solution.
  • X-rays are taken before and after the barium solution is administered and once again when the bowel has been emptied. You will be asked to turn several times during the exam.
  • The rectal tube remains inserted throughout the exam and it is normal to experience a feeling of fullness and pressure at the rectum.
  • Once the exam is completed and the films have been checked you may leave.

Following the Examination

  • Prior to eating your lunch, take 4 tablespoons (2 oz.) of Milk of Magnesia to help clear the barium from your intestinal tract.  (Do not take Milk of Magnesia if you were given Gastrografin contrast.)
  • Increase your fluid intake for the rest of the day.
  • Resume your normal diet unless otherwise instructed.

Barium Enema Video

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Mayo Clinic Health Information

Learn more about Barium Enema from our Mayo Clinic Health Information section