Barium and/or Air Contrast Enema

What is a Barium Enema and/or Air Contrast Barium Enema?

A Barium and/or Air Contrast Enema is an examination of the large intestine, which includes the colon and the rectum. Those areas of the body are inflated by air and barium is used to coat the colon and evaluate any abnormalities through the use of fluoroscopy.


You may obtain a preparation kit from The Radiology Clinic two days prior to the examination. The kit contains instructions for the 24 hour cleansing.

Approximately 30 to 45 minutes should be allowed for the examination. You may be at The Radiology Clinic longer than that due to check-in and interview with the technologist.

If you have children, please make arrangements for childcare, as there are no childcare facilities on site. Due to radiation exposure, children are not allowed in the examination room.

What to Expect

You will be instructed to change into an exam gown and lie on the examination table. The technologist will discuss your symptoms and medical history. A lubricated enema tip will be inserted into your rectum. Barium and/or air will fill your colon slowly under control of the radiologist. The barium and/or air will cause fullness and pressure in your abdomen and will make you feel the urge to have a bowel movement. We ask that you retain the enema tip in the rectum while we observe the barium/air flow through your large intestine. The radiologist will take images of specific areas of the colon. The technologist will take additional images as specified by the radiologist. You may be asked to change positions while x-rays are being taken. Different positions give different views of the intestines. After filming, you will be escorted to a nearby bathroom where you can evacuate the barium and/or air. After evacuation, an additional x-ray of the abdomen may be taken as directed by the radiologist. Images are presented to the radiologist for interpretation.

Follow Up

The barium used in this procedure may cause constipation and make you have gray or white stools for a few days after the procedure. Your doctor may recommend a mild laxative to aid in the excretion of barium. You may resume a regular diet unless otherwise instructed by your physician.

Your referring physician will be provided results 2 - 3 working days after your exam.


If you are pregnant or feel that you may be pregnant, please notify the technologist prior to any x-rays being taken.