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Barium enema

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This examination is done to assess the colon, by coating its inner surface with barium (a milk-like contrast material) and then distending it with air. In this way, surface appearances can be studied and even small abnormalities detected.


If you are a woman of childbearing age and there is a chance that you may be pregnant, please consult your physician before scheduling this exam.

    Medications can be taken prior to your test. Pills should be taken early in the morning, with just a small amount of water. If you take insulin, you must consult with your doctor about adjusting your dose. You should not take insulin if you are fasting for your exam. However, you should bring your insulin with you so you can take it after the exam. Also, when making an appointment, tell the scheduler if you are diabetic. Request an appointment time early in the day.

Preparing your colon:

    The colon needs to be free of waste matter or fecal contents which could give rise to misleading x-ray appearances similar to those of a tumor. For this purpose a Bowel Preparation Kit can be purchased at any pharmacy.

    On the day before your examiniation you may drink ONLY clear liquids (water, juice, soup, tea or coffee without milk or sugar). Be sure to drink a sufficient amount of fluid.

    At 5:00 p.m. drink the entire contents of the bottle of magnesium citrate (a laxative).

    On the day of the examination: NOTHING further may be taken by mouth. If your appointment is in the afternoon or if the laxatives you have taken have not been very effective, you should use a suppository.

    Patients less than 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Please do not bring children with you to the appointment. Be sure that your doctor's office has sent an x-ray request to us or that you bring one with you.

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The procedure

    You will be asked to change into a hospital gown.

You will be asked to lie on the x-ray table. A tube will be inserted into the rectum by the radiographer. The radiologist will allow liquid barium to flow gently into your rectum and this will be followed by the introduction of air. You may be given an intravenous medication to relax your colon. You will be asked to turn several times on the X-ray table in order to outline and examine all parts of the colon. Films will be taken by the radiologist.

Should you have any difficulty in holding the barium you will find ease in taking deep, slow breaths. Do not hesitate to tell the radiologist should you feel unduly uncomfortable as he may be able to give you relief.

After the films have been taken you will be free to go to the bathroom and eliminate the barium. Sometimes an x-ray film is required following elimination.

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After Care   

In most patients with normal bowel habits barium will pass in one or two days in the form of "white stools." We do recommend increasing fluid intake and the use of a mild laxative particularly in patients with a history of constipation.

The radiologist's report of the results will be ready within 24 hours. Your doctor will discuss the results of the test with you.


Please call our hotline 16171 or (202) 3336-3310 (Mohandeseen), (202) 2417 5556 (Heliopolis) or (202) 2528 4888 (Maadi) to speak with a radiologist if you have any questions. It is best to call between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., Saturday through Thursday.


Computed & Digital Radiography Barium enema Barium swallow & meal Barium meal follow through Cystogram Hysterosalpingography IVP or IVU Sialography
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Last modified: 17-06-2009