Contrast Enema

Also known as: barium enema.

What is a contrast enema?

A Contrast Enema or Barium Enema (BE) is a test that takes pictures of your child’s large intestine. A special water-like liquid will be used which acts as a highlight to show details of the large intestine, rectum, and colon.
 

 

What happens during a Barium Enema?

  • A BE takes pictures using a special type of X-ray called Fluoroscopy.
  • X-rays use a small, safe dose of radiation to help create the pictures.
  • Pregnant women and accompanying children are not permitted in the room during the scan. Please arrive with another adult who can stay with your child or accompanying children during the procedure.
 

What to Expect During the Procedure

Step 1: Getting Ready
  • A hospital representative will walk the parent and patient from the waiting room to an exam room where there will be a table with a camera attached.
  • Next, the parent will be provided a hospital gown for the child to change into. All clothing must be removed except for the hospital gown.
  • The technologist will then ask the parent to help the child onto on the table to prepare for the pictures.
  • A member of the medical team will explain the procedure, which entails gently placing a soft, flexible, plastic, jelly covered tube into your child’s bottom and securing it in place.   
    • Your child may feel pressure and or the need to go the bathroom during this time.
    • Help your child to relax his/her muscles by taking in deep, slow breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth to make the tube placement easier.

Step 2: Taking Pictures
  • The technologist will move the camera down over the top of your child’s backside and begin taking the pictures. The camera never touches your child.
  • Your child will be asked to lay still like a statue.
    • Next, the technologist will begin filling the tube with the liquid contrast used to help take detailed pictures of your child’s large intestine.
  • Some children say this part feels cold as if they need to go to the bathroom.
  • Remind your child to continue taking slow, deep breaths to keep the muscles and nerves relaxed.

Step 3: Going to the bathroom
  • The technologist will then gently remove the plastic tube and tape from your child’s bottom.
  • Once your child feels a strong urge to go to the bathroom, a technologist will help you walk the child to the bathroom, which is located in the same exam room.
  • Once your child is finished using the bathroom, the technologist will assist you in helping your child back onto the exam table to take a few more pictures before the exam is completed.
  • Depending on the age and size of your child, you may be asked to return in 24 hours for additional pictures of the large intestine to finalize the study. Your technologist will advise you if this is necessary.

Step 4: Results
Results will be sent to the physician within one to two business days.

 

Barium Enema Preparation Guidelines

6-30 pounds
  • Nothing by mouth three hours prior to the exam
  • Insert 1/2 Dulcolax suppository rectally at bedtime
  • Insert 1/4 Dulcolax suppository rectally at 6:00 am
31-45 pounds
  • Nothing by mouth after midnight
  • 10 cc castor oil by mouth at 2:00 pm (2 teaspoons)
  • Insert 1/2 Dulcolax suppository rectally at bedtime
  • Insert 1/2 Dulcolax suppository rectally at 6:00 am
46-60 pounds
  • Nothing by mouth after midnight
  • 20 cc castor oil by mouth at 2:00 pm (4 teaspoons)
  • Insert 1 Dulcolax suppository rectally at bedtime
61-75 pounds
  • Nothing by mouth after midnight
  • 30 cc castor oil by mouth at 2:00 pm (1 ounce)
  • Insert 1 Dulcolax suppository rectally at bedtime
76-90 pounds
  • Nothing by mouth after midnight
  • 35 cc castor oil by mouth at 2:00 pm (7 teaspoons)
  • Insert 1 Dulcolax suppository rectally at bedtime
91 pounds and over
  • Nothing by mouth after midnight
  • 60 cc castor oil by mouth at 2:00 pm (2 ounces)
  • Insert 1 Dulcolax suppository rectally at bedtime
Barium Enema for Hirschsprungs and Crohn's:
  • Nothing by mouth 3 hours prior to the exam for infants
  • Nothing by mouth after midnight for all others
  • No other preparation
Barium Enema for Constipation:
  • Nothing by mouth 3 hours prior to exam for infants
  • Nothing by mouth after midnight for all others
  • No other preparation
Barium Enema for Rectal Bleeding or Polyps:
  • Give air contrast preparation even when regular barium enema is ordered.
IVP:
  • A consent form must be signed by legal guardian or parents prior to examination being performed.
Contact Radiology
305-663-8413

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Dr. Lina Felipez is Director of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Research and a pediatric gastroenterologist within the Division of Gastroenterology at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami.

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