Types, Preparation & Procedure of Barium Enema Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What is Barium Enema?

Also known as a lower gastrointestinal examination or GI, this examination is done with an X-ray and examines the rectum and colon - large intestine. This test is done to check if a person has any problems or diseases that are affecting the large intestine. A material containing barium is filled into the colon as it would generate a certain contrast, and this would make the intestine show up on the X-ray picture. The contrast material is poured through a tube, and the tube is inserted into the anus.

Types of Barium Enema

Two kinds of barium enema: One is known as the single-contrast study, while the other one is known as double-contrast study.

Reasons Why It is Conducted

  • By doing this enema, doctors can check if patients have colon cancer or colon polyps.
  • This test can be used to check for structural problems of the large intestine.
  • This enema can be used to see of the intestinal wall is inflamed and if a patient has Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • This test can also be used for evaluating problems like unexplained weight loss, anemia, or altered bowel movements.


You must tell your physician if you are pregnant, can be allergic to barium or latex, or if you've already undergone a similar test in the recent past. The healthcare professional will prepare you for the test by cleaning out the large intestine thoroughly.

You will be given a clear liquid diet for a few days before the test takes place. Then the day the test will be done, you will be asked to drink large quantities of clear liquids, and will be given laxatives. You may even be given a tap water enema to flush out the stool. This could be repeated until the colon is totally free of fecal matter.


Your colon is filled with a material that has barium and this is poured through a tube. The X-rays will be blocked by barium and the colon with barium will show up on the picture. The enema tube is well-lubricated and inserted into the rectum, and then the barium is poured into the colon.

After the test, the healthcare professional will take the enema tube out and you will be asked to take out the barium.

How Does It Feel After The Procedure

You might feel uncomfortable and exhausted. However, the procedure does not take very long. Some people find the cleaning of the bowels a little unpleasant. You might experience soreness in the anal area.