Barium enema

Lower gastrointestinal series; Lower GI series; Colorectal cancer - lower GI series; Colorectal cancer - barium enema; Crohn disease - lower GI series; Crohn disease - barium enema; Intestinal blockage - lower GI series; Intestinal blockage - barium enema

Barium enema is a special x-ray of the large intestine, which includes the colon and rectum.

Barium enema

The barium enema is a valuable diagnostic tool that helps detect abnormalities in the large intestine (colon). The barium enema, along with colonoscopy, remain standards in the diagnosis of colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, and other diseases of the colon.

Rectal cancer, X-ray

A barium enema in a patient with cancer of the rectum.

Sigmoid colon cancer, X-ray

A barium enema in a patient with cancer of the large bowel (sigmoid area).

Barium enema

A barium enema is performed to examine the walls of the colon. During the procedure, a well lubricated enema tube is inserted gently into the rectum. The barium, a radiopaque (shows up on X-ray) contrast medium, is then allowed to flow into the colon. The flow of the barium is monitored by the health care provider on an X-ray fluoroscope screen (like a TV monitor). The test is used to detect colon cancer. The barium enema may also be used to diagnose and evaluate the extent of inflammatory bowel diseases.

How the Test is Performed

How to Prepare for the Test

How the Test will Feel

Why the Test is Performed

Normal Results

What Abnormal Results Mean

Risks