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
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.