Double Contrast Barium Enema

Submitted by Nic on October 16, 2012

The double contrast barium enema is a test used to check for problems in the colon or rectum including problems such as colon cancer. This type of problem and other such problems are characterized by the presence of abnormal structures or tumors in the rectum and colon. The presence of these structures needs to be confirmed using a double contrast barium enema test.

The double contrast barium enema needs to be done on a fasting diet. The individual is not allowed to eat for at least 8 hours before the procedure. During the preparation for the double contrast barium enema, the technician will insert a tube into the anus to fill the area with barium contrast. To further enhance the visibility, the area will be filled with air. This will expand the area to full size and its lining will be highlighted with the barium contrast.

The scanning part of the double contrast barium enema is performed using a CT, MRI or X-ray imaging machine. These machines will perform sweeps around the body as the scanning process takes place. As part of the double contrast barium enema technique the patient will be asked to move from one side to the other so that the barium can flow easily and line the entire colon and rectum area. During the double contrast barium enema test, the patient will feel the urge to defecate. This is because the area where fecal matter usually collects will be filled with fluid and air. Some people, particularly those with structural damage in this area of their body may feel pain during the procedure. Others may experience minimal discomfort during the procedure. If the individual feels extreme pain, he or she should report this immediately to the doctor so that the procedure can be stopped to check the cause of the pain.

The scanning period of the double contrast barium enema procedure may last up to 45 minutes. This depends on how many different angles are needed. One should keep in mind that there is a lot of difference between double contrast barium enema and colonoscopy. Both the procedures may seem similar, but a colonoscopy allows for sample tissue removal unlike a barium procedure. The doctor may also spend time analyzing each image before trying to perform another imaging scan. After the double contrast barium enema procedure, the patient will be taken to a rest room where he or she can defecate. Following this, there is not much that needs to be worried about after the double contrast barium enema procedure. Some patients may experience fecal incontinence for a day or two after the procedure but this is quite a rare complication that does not affect most individuals.

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