What to Expect During a Barium Enema

Barium enemas are X-rays of your rectum and colon. These exams can help detect issues such as blockages, tumors, polyps and more.

Before Your Exam

Pediatric patients will need to follow the bowel prep instructions given by their physician.

If you are an adult patient, you will need to follow your bowel prep instructions, which include having a liquid breakfast, lunch and dinner before your exam. You will also drink over-the-counter magnesium citrate after your liquid dinner. If you have renal disease or congestive heart failure, please consult your doctor before drinking the magnesium citrate. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the day before your test. This includes water, gum, candy and smoking.

Let your technologist know about any symptoms, allergies, previous surgeries, medications and if you are or might be pregnant.

During Your Exam

For this test, a tube is inserted into your rectum and your colon is filled with barium, which helps improve the X-ray images. You will move into different positions and hold your breath while the X-rays are taken. Pressure may also be applied to your stomach to improve the images.

After Your Exam

If you are constipated after your test, drink plenty of water. If you have any issues with your bowel movements after the exam, please contact your doctor. Your stool may be white or light for a day or two after your test. Contact your doctor to discuss the results of your exam.