Contrast Enema

What is a Contrast Enema?

A contrast enema is an x-ray evaluation of the large intestine, also known as the colon.

What will the exam be like?

You will be asked to change into a gown before your examination. You may be asked to remove jewelry, eyeglasses or any metal objects that could obscure the images.

A Radiologic Technologist will position you on a table and a preliminary x-ray will be obtained to check for adequacy of the bowel preparation.

A small tube will be inserted into the rectum so the contrast material can be passed into the colon. Air may also be injected through the tube to help thoroughly coat the lining of the colon. A Radiologist will perform the exam. You may be repositioned frequently to enable the Radiologist to capture views of your colon from several angles. After the Radiologist is finished, the technologist will then take a series of images. Once the x-ray images are completed, most of the contrast is drawn back into a bag, and you will be directed to the washroom to expel the remaining contrast and air. The technologist will then take additional images to help the doctor see how well the colon has cleared.

How will I feel during the exam?

As the contrast fills your colon, you will feel the need to move your bowel. You may feel abdominal pressure or even minor cramping. These are common sensations, and most people tolerate the mild discomfort easily. The tip of the enema tube is specially designed to help you hold the barium. If you are having trouble, let the technologist know. During the imaging process, you will be asked to turn from side to side and to hold several different positions. At times, pressure may be applied to your abdomen. The table may also be turned into an upright position.

How do I prepare for the exam?

You will be informed of what to do to prepare for your exam when you schedule your appointment.

Typically, the day before the exam you will be restricted to a clear diet and must avoid dairy products. You will be instructed to take a laxative the evening prior and/or the morning of the exam.

However, please follow the instructions given to you when scheduling your exam.

How long will the exam take?

A lower GI study typically takes 45-60 minutes.

Following the exam:

You are able to return to a normal diet and activities immediately after the exam. Your stools may appear white for a day or so as your body clears the metallic liquid from your system. You will be encouraged to drink additional water for 24 hours after the examination.

Exam results:

A Radiologist will study the images and a typed report will be sent to your designated health care provider.

Special note:

Women should always inform their health care provider or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

If you should have any questions regarding this procedure, please call 815-942-2932 ext. 7130.

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