What to Expect During Your Exam






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If you've never had an enema and have no idea what to expect, you can click the picture which will take you to a link where you can watch an enema being administered.  This is a graphic presentation so use common sense.


In order to conduct the most accurate barium enema test, the patient must follow a prescribed diet and bowel preparation prior to the test. This includes a diet of tea, coffee (black), clear soups, and gelatin 24-48 hours before the barium enema. Laxatives and cathartics such as magnesium citrate (X-Prep) or Dulcolax tablets may also be required as part of the bowel preparation. Each radiology department has their own specific requirements. A rectal suppository or cleansing enema may also be necessary on the morning before the exam.  You may have to do this at home or it may be done at the clinic

Patients must drink as much fluids as possible to prevent dehydration. Patients with heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disorders should consult their physician for an alternate bowel preparation. Children are usually placed on a clear liquid diet on the day before their examination.

A barium enema may be done in a hospital or a certified x-ray clinic and will take 30 minutes to one hour depending on what type of exam has been ordered and the physical ability of the patient.

Patients should follow several steps immediately after undergoing a barium enema, including:

Drinking plenty of fluids to help counteract the dehydrating effects of the bowel preparation..

Taking time to rest. A barium enema and the bowel preparation taken before it can be exhausting.

A cleansing enema or laxative may be given to eliminate any remaining barium. White stools containing barium are normal for two or three days following a barium enema.


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