Barium Enema

Note: The following preps are for pediatric care only.

For questions about any of these preps, please contact the Radiology Reception Desk, at 763-2573 for more information.

A Barium Enema is an examination of the large bowel (large colon). As the name states, it is an enema using barium. The enema tip is very small, with a rounded tip and is connected to the bag of barium.

  • For a child under the age of 3 we use a special device called an octagon board where the child is secured during the exam like a little papoose. This does not hurt the child but is done to help reduce the amount of radiation the child receives during the exam by restricting un-wanted motion and also allows the Radiologist to turn the child quickly onto their side so as not to miss any crucial anatomy. We allow one parent to remain next to the child if needed to comfort the child.
  • On a child over 3 years of age, they will lay on towels on the x-ray table with a parent holding their hand for comfort.

The enema tip is placed in the rectum of the child and a small piece of tape is used to hold it in place. During the examination, the Radiologist watches the colon on a television screen to monitor the colon’s filling. Small spot films of any area of interest or concern in the colon are also taken at this time. When the colon is adequately filled with barium the technologist will take overhead pictures of the colon with the patient turned in different directions. The older patient will then have the enema tip removed and go into the bathroom. The child under 3 years of age will be drained lying on the table. After 5 to 10 minutes another overhead picture will be taken to see how well the colon has emptied. There are usually no after effects from the barium and it may continue to pass out in small amounts over the next few days.

Reviewed: 7/2011