Preparation for Barium Enema

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Apr 23, 2013

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Preparation for Barium Enema

A barium enema examination is carried out in order to check for any malfunctioning in the colon region. X-rays are unable to penetrate the barium liquid metal used, which lines the colon, resulting in a clear image of the selected area.

The barium enema examination lasts between 20 minutes to half an hour and requires some amount of preparation.

[Read: How Barium Enema is performed]


Before preparing for a barium enema x-ray, the patient should inform the concerned physician about the following facts:

  • Pregnancy: if a patient is pregnant or likely to be with child, a barium enema is not suggested. This is because the x-ray used, even in small amount might be harmful to the unborn foetus.
  • Allergies: the enema tube is made of latex, which can sometimes cause an allergy for people with low tolerance towards latex. Also, if a patient knows that they are allergic to barium, the physician should be informed prior to the examination. Other substitutes might be available in certain cases.
  • Recent Past Surgery: if the patient has recently taken a colonoscopy test or upper barium test, the physician must be informed as certain time is required to lapse before the barium enema can be administered. This is a measure taken in order to capture clear images through the x-ray.

[Read: What is Barium Enema?]


For a barium enema test to be thoroughly accurate, the following preparation steps must be taken:

  1. The colon has to be completely free of any faecal matter or even gas. For this to be possible, the patient should only consume light, clear liquids like black coffee, water, clear soup, etc.; starting three days short of the slotted date.
  2. Laxatives might be suggested by the physician to clean the colon of faecal matter. Regular water enema too might be suggested. Sometimes a combination of both methods may be prescribed. The cleaner the colon is while administering the barium enema, the more accurate the image will be.
  3. The immediate night before the barium enema is schedule, no consumption of liquids might be permitted at all.
  4. On the day of the procedure, some fluids might be given through an IV, depending on the situation.


[Read: Risks doing Barium Enema]


The entire clarity and success of a barium enema depends on how well a patient prepares for it. Keeping the colon completely absent of waste matter and gases will help obtain a clear image for better diagnosis.



Read more articles on Barium Enema.




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