Advantages & Disadvantages of Barium Enema and Colonoscopy

Submitted by Nic on October 16, 2012

A barium enema and a colonoscopy are two different ways of examining the lower portions of the digestive system. The barium enema procedure involves the use of an imaging machine whereas the colonoscopy involves the use of a specialized scope that sends images to a computer screen. There is a lot of debate about the application of a barium enema versus colonoscopy. Unfortunately, studies that have been done to check the advantages or disadvantages of barium enema versus colonoscopy have provided confusing conclusions.

The barium enema procedure involves the insertion of a barium based contrast material into the rectum of the patient. The patient is then subjected to a series of imaging tests. In these tests, the lining of the colon and rectum can be analyzed. These linings will be highlighted by the barium used in the enema. The images produced from this test will then be checked by a doctor or a team of doctors to determine if there is any abnormality in the lining. These abnormalities may be in the form of growths or tumors that are forming in the area.

The colonoscopy is a procedure that uses an imaging device that is placed inside the patient’s body through the anus. This imaging device has lighting and lenses on its tip to make the lining visible. As the scope enters further and further into the body, the doctor will check the lining for different abnormalities that may be present. The images are also recorded constantly so that further assessment can be made as and when required.

When comparing the results of the barium enema versus colonoscopy, one will find that neither of these procedures is completely accurate. When one uses the term accurate, it means that neither of these tests will pick up every single abnormality present in the area. In general, it can be said that the results of the battle of a barium enema versus colonoscopy tip in favor of the colonoscopy as this procedure tends to present more useful evidence to a doctor when compared with a barium enema. However, as neither of these two procedures is fool proof, they are often conducted one after another. If the colonoscopy shows no results, a barium enema may follow. In this way, a larger percentage of the abnormalities will be discovered and this can be useful when trying to track any disease, particularly if the doctor is trying to track a relapse of some condition that has affected the patient in the past.

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