Contrast Enema

Also known as: barium enema, BE.

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 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

Children 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

Children 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

Children 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

Children 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

Children 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

Children 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.

Reviewed by: Carrie Firestone Baum, MD

This page was last updated on: April 06, 2021 10:14 AM

Pediatric Gastroenterology

The Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is dedicated to the treatment of a wide variety of gastrointestinal problems in infants, children and adolescents with a multidisciplinary approach.

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Crohn's Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes the intestine anywhere from mouth to anus to become inflamed, and/or ulcerated, causing it to lose its ability to absorb digested foods. Learn more

Hirschsprung's Disease

Hirschsprung's disease describes a congenital condition where nerve cells in the wall of the large bowel that normally develop during intrauterine development are missing. Learn more

Fluoroscopy

Fluoroscopy produces a continuous, moving image (video) to show how structures within the body are moving. Learn more

Enema Administration

An enema is liquid medicine delivered into the anus and rectum to relieve constipation and help with colon cleansing, among other medical uses. Learn more

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