Barium Enema

A Barium Enema is an x-ray exam of your rectum and colon. This test helps your doctor detect problems such as a blockage, a tumor, polyps or other disorders.


  • Bring a list of current medications.
  • Please drink a minimum of 6-8 glasses of water in addition to the clear liquids specified in the instructions. Clear liquids you can drink include non-pulpy fruit juices, non-carbonated beverages, tea, coffee, clear soup, plain gelatin (NO fruit), or plain water.
  • Do not drink (or use in coffee or tea) any milk, cream, or other dairy products
  • Unless directed otherwise by your physician, continue all prescribed medications during this bowel cleansing procedure
  • Do not take additional laxatives or antacids
  • Day before examination:
    • 12:00 pm: Clear liquids only
    • 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm: Drink 8 oz of clear liquid (total of 24 oz)
    • 5:30 pm: Drink the magnesium citrate laxative
    • 7:00 pm, 8:00 pm, 9:00 pm: Drink 8 oz of clear liquid (total of 24 oz)
    • 10:00 pm: Take all three Bisacodyl tablets with an 8 oz glass of water. Swallow tablets whole; DO NOT chew, crush or dissolve tablets.
  • Day of examination:
    • Do not eat before your exam. Clear liquids are permitted until one hour before your exam.
    • At least two hours before leaving for your exam - remove foil wrapper from Bisacodyl suppository.
    • Lie on your left side and insert suppository rectally as far as possible. Resist evacuations for at least 15 minutes, even if the urge is strong.
    • If you have a colostomy you may need to irrigate prior to exam. Patient should also bring extra colostomy bag.


  • A tube is inserted into your rectum.
  • Your colon is filled with barium (a liquid that improves the x-ray images).
  • You will be asked to move into different positions and hold your breath while x-rays are taken.
  • Pressure may be applied to your belly to get the best images.
  • The last x-ray will be taken after you go to the bathroom.
  • The procedure takes approximately one hour. 


  • Upper GI and Barium Enema studies cannot be done on the same day. If both need to be performed, Barium Enema must be completed first with the Upper GI completed 72 hours after.
  • Having a Barium Enema may affect your ability to schedule other imaging exams and procedures within certain time frames. Please check with your ordering provider if you have any questions.
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