Why it's doneBy Mayo Clinic staff
Your doctor may recommend a barium enema exam to:
- Investigate intestinal signs and symptoms. A barium enema can help your doctor explore possible causes of abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, a change in bowel habits, chronic diarrhea and other intestinal problems.
- Identify specific colon problems. A barium enema can help your doctor identify growths (polyps) in your colon, diverticulitis or other colon problems.
In addition, a double-contrast barium enema may also detect cancer. If any growths (polyps) are detected during a barium enema, a follow-up colonoscopy may be needed. However, newer techniques, such as CT colonography, may be used instead of barium enema because newer techniques can produce better images.
Barium enema exams generally aren't done during pregnancy.
- Barium enema examination. American Society of Radiologic Technologists. https://www.asrt.org/content/ThePublic/AboutRadiologicProcedures/Barium_Enema_exam.aspx. Accessed April 12, 2011.
- Lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract X-ray (radiography). Radiological Society of North America. http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=lowergi. Accessed April 12, 2011.
- Colorectal cancer early detection. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/ColonandRectumCancer/MoreInformation/ColonandRectumCancerEarlyDetection/colorectal-cancer-early-detection-screening-tests-used. Accessed April 12, 2011.
- American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_2_3X_ACS_Cancer_Detection_Guidelines_36.asp?sitearea=PED. Accessed April 12, 2011.
- Labianca R, et al. Screening and diagnosis for colorectal cancer: Present and future. Tumori. 2010;96:889.
- Picco, MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. April 13, 2011.
- Fletcher RH. Tests for screening for colorectal cancer: Stool tests, radiologic imaging and endoscopy. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 12, 2011.