This procedure is used to determine the anatomy of the colon and rectum and to diagnose any abnormalities in these structures. The barium enema is a x-ray test, during which barium, a white, chalky substance is inserted into the colon and rectum through the anus. This procedure is performed by a radiologist and the abnormalities that are being detected include: abnormal colon movement, polyps, dilation and cancers of the colon and rectum.
Before the procedure, it is important that all fecal matter be emptied from the bowel in order to enhance the integrity of the x-ray pictures. Therefore, the patient is put on a liquid diet and given cleansing enemas before the procedure. Additional medication may be given to help empty the bowels. External materials such as clothes and jewelry are also removed.
Next, barium is inserted into the colon and rectum through the anus and these organs are viewed and contrasted with other organs of the body through an x-ray machine. The patient may feel slight discomfort during this part of the procedure. The radiologist interprets the images and takes a few static photographs of barium filled organs for later use. The radiologist then reports his/her interpretations the physician who ordered the procedure. The barium enema can last anywhere from 15 min. to 1 hour depending on the type of condition in question and the anatomy of the patient.
This procedure involves x-ray equipment; therefore, there is a slight risk of radiation exposure. All hospitals follow strict guidelines on the use of x-ray machines in order to minimize exposure. However, women who are or may be pregnant should notify the physician requesting the procedure and the radiology staff because there is a potential risk of harming the fetus with any exposure to radiation.
The barium enema is a x-ray test, performed by a radiologist on abnormalities like abnormal colon movement, dilation and cancers of the colon and rectum.
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