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Barium enema (colon)

The barium enema is a real-time examination of your colon (or large intestine), under fluoroscopy. The radiologist injects a contrast agent and air in your rectum with a small flexible tube. It captures images of your large intestine in movement in order to:

  • Conduct a follow-up evaluation after a positive result on a fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
  • Check for the presence of polyps or masses in the large intestine
  • Find the cause of bleeding, nutrient absorption problems, or abdominal pain linked to the intestine
  • Diagnose cancer or other lower digestive tract disorders

Examination procedure

During the procedure, the technologist:

  • Will use a small lubricated plastic tube to inject a contrast agent and a small amount of air in your rectum
  • Will ask you to adopt certain positions (standing or lying down, face up or face down) to get a clear view of all your organs
  • Will capture dynamic and static images

Please note that the total duration of your visit for this examination can be between 60 and 90 minutes, even though the examination procedure itself will only last between 30 minutes.

Specificities and Contraindications

  • The barium enema is contraindicated if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • The barium enema is contraindicated for patients under 40 years old and 70 years and older.
  • The barium enema is contraindicated for patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • If you are diabetic, ImagixTM can schedule an appointment for you very early in the morning to facilitate your preparation for the examination.. You can drink a bottle of Boost®, Ensure® or Glucerna®, vanilla flavour without fibre, 2 hours before the examination.

Preparing for the Examination

A barium enema requires a complete purge of your colon. It is important that you follow the steps below to properly prepare for the examination:

  • You must buy a Pico-Salax® kit at the pharmacy
  • 4 days before the examination - avoid eating nuts and seeds

If you have Constipation, eat light meals and drink 2-3 cups of prune juice the day before the preparation or take 2-3 tablets of Bisacodyl(Ducolax) at diner.

  • 2 days before the examination – avoid eating red meat

The day before the examination

  • Clear liquid diet (see below) all day until midnight.
  • At 8:00 a.m.: Drink 1 pack of Pico-Salax
  • At 5:00 p.m.: Drink 1 pack of Pico-Salax

  • Drink plenty of liquids – Especially, the next four hours after taking Pico-Salax you must drink a minimum of 2-3 glasses of liquid per hour

Permitted clear liquids:
  • Oral rehydration solutions (e.g. Gastrolyte®, Pedialyte®) and sports drinks (e.g. Gatorade®, Powerade®) with no colouring
  • Clear juices with no pulp (e.g. apple, white grape, white cranberry)
  • Clear soft drinks (e.g. 7-Up®, Sprite®, ginger ale)
  • Jell-O®, freeze pops, popsicles® (except red)
  • Clear soups (fat-free chicken or beef broth or consommé)
  • Boost®, Ensure® and Glucerna®, vanilla flavour without fibre
  • Hard candies
  • Water, ice, herbal tea, tea, coffee (without dairy)

The Day of the Examination

  • You will have to fast the day of the examination
  • You can bring a snack to eat when the procedure will be completed
  • For the procedure, we will ask you to wear a hospital gown and remove your jewelry and any metal object that might adversely affect image quality
If your appointment is in the morning
  • Do not eat anything the morning of the examination. However, you can take your essential medication with a small drink of water.
If your appointment is in the afternoon
  • Do not eat anything the morning of the examination. However, you can take your essential medication with a small drink of water.
  • You can drink a bottle of Boost®, Ensure® or Glucerna®, vanilla flavour without fibre, for breakfast or lunch, but take no liquids in the 2 hours before the examination.

After the exam, you must drink a lot of water.

A medical prescription is required to perform this examination.

The costs of this examination are covered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ).

If your healthcare professional has prescribed this examination or if you have any questions, contact us at 1 833 590-2715.