Radiology


Barium Enema

Please be sure to read our general information about fluoroscopy before exploring the details about this procedure.

Barium Enema
Barium Enema
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What is a barium enema?

A barium enema is a fluoroscopic procedure which evaluates a child's colon, which is also known as the large bowel or intestine.

A barium enema may be performed for various reasons, most that affect a child's ability to have a bowel movement.

This exam is obtained by the use of fluoroscopy, and a contrast agent introduced through the rectum.

What should you do prior to the exam?

There are different preparations, according to your child's age, diagnosis or reason for exam. Please pay close attention to the following instructions.

If the reason for the exam is to evaluate for Hirschprungs disease or constipation, there are no special preparations. Please skip the bulleted instructions below.

Any other indication requires the following preparations:

If your child has a noted allergy to radiographic contrast, additional preparations may be necessary.

Dress your child comfortably, in clothes that are easily removed. Your child will be given a gown to change into for the procedure.

You may want to bring a snack or drink for your child to have after the exam

Note: Parents will be allowed to accompany the child into the exam room, other arrangements should be made for siblings.

Women who are pregnant or may be pregnant will be asked to leave the exam room during the procedure. Please make sure that there is someone else available to accompany the child during the exam, if needed.

What should you do when you arrive for the exam?

If your appointment is scheduled at the Main Hospital

You must check in to Outpatient Registration, on the third floor of the Main Hospital, 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. This is where your registration process occurs.

The law requires that you bring with you a prescription from your doctor's office stating the exam to be done and the reason for it.

If your insurance requires you to have a referral, it must be presented at the time of registration. Proof of insurance will also need to be provided at this time.

Once the registration process is completed, the Radiology Department will be notified. A radiologic technologist will come out to the central registration area and bring you and your child to the Radiology exam room.

If your appointment is scheduled at the Pediatric Imaging Center at King of Prussia:

You must check in at the main registration desk, located in the main waiting room, 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. This is where your registration process occurs.

The law requires that you bring a prescription from your doctor's office stating the exam to be done and the reason for it.

If your insurance requires a referral, it must be presented at the time of registration. Proof of insurance will also need to be provided at this time.

Once the registration process is completed, you will be directed to the Radiology waiting room. The Fluoroscopy Technologist will be notified and will come out and bring you and your child to the Radiology exam room.

What should you expect during the exam?

The technologist will ask why the barium enema is being performed and explain the procedure to both you and your child. A barium enema is accomplished by inserting a tiny tube into your child's rectum. The length and width of the tube is determined by the age and/or size of your child. Once the tube is inserted, the technologist will use tape on your child's bottom so that the tube will stay in place during the study. The tube will be connected to a bag containing a contrast agent.

The radiologist will move the fluoroscopy machine, or camera, over your child and the contrast material will be administered. While the contrast material is flowing into your child's bowel, the radiologist will roll your child from side to side in order to get good diagnostic images. After your child's large bowel has been evaluated, the tube will be removed from your child's rectum and he/she will be allowed to go to the bathroom or be put in a diaper until he/she has a bowel movement. After your child has a bowel movement, additional pictures may be taken. This exam takes an average of 30 minutes from start to finish.

Child Life Specialists are available to answer questions you might have about how to prepare and support your child during the procedure. A child life specialist can also be present at the time of your child's appointment to explain the procedure in developmentally appropriate ways using well established preparation materials. The specialist can also be available to help implement distraction techniques to help your child better cope with the stress of the hospital experience. Please call 215-590-2001 or click the link above for more information. If your child's procedure is scheduled for the Pediatric Imaging Center at King of Prussia, you can call the Child Life Specialist directly at 215-590-3069.

What should you do after the exam?

After the study, it is important to mildly increase your child's fluid intake for the day, because the barium may cause constipation.

If there are any problems or questions about constipation please call your Primary Care Physician.

When your child does have a bowel movement, it may appear white or grayish — do not be alarmed! The barium may cause this discoloration.

Test results

The images from your child's exam are interpreted on the same day and a report sent to your physician's office.

If your physician has any questions regarding the report, he/she may call 215-590-2584.

Here is an example of what your child's exam may look like.

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