Barium Enema

A barium enema is an X-ray of the large intestine that includes the colon and rectum.

It is used to diagnose problems in the large intestine such as abnormal growths, ulcers, polyps and diverticuli.

We will be using radiation for this exam. Please notify your doctor if you are pregnant.

Before Your Procedure

  • Before your barium enema, your large intestine must be empty. Your doctor will order a bowel preparation for you to use starting the day before the exam. The instructions for its use will be provided.
  • It is important you have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before the exam.
  • You may take your regular medications with a sip of water.
  • Check with your doctor if you are diabetic regarding your diabetes medications.

During Your Procedure

  • A barium mixture is put into the intestine using an enema. The barium coats the lining of the intestine and makes it show up more clearly on X-rays.
  • Air may also be injected to help visualize the intestine. The barium will cause a feeling of fullness and pressure in your abdomen and you may experience some cramping.
  • After the doctor is finished taking X-rays, you will be able to go to the restroom.
  • The exam takes about 1 hour.

After Your Procedure

  • You may resume your regular diet. Your stools may be light colored or chalky; this is normal.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (if you are not on a fluid restriction) to help move the barium through your system, otherwise you may become constipated.
  • If you have not had a bowel movement for three days, notify your doctor. You may be instructed to use a laxative.
  • Your doctor will be contacted with the results of your test and will discuss the results with you.

Providing safe, quality patient care is our highest priority. To help ensure quality and safety, we ask that you do not bring young children with you to your appointments, as children are not allowed to accompany you during Imaging procedures. Staff is unable to monitor your child in your absence.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your provider.

Back to Imaging Patient Instructions

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to help us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO