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Barium Enema

What is Barium Enema A barium enema, which is often termed as lower GI (gastrointestinal), is an array of radiographic test performed to analyze the large intestine. Barium enema can be categorized into two segments - the single-contrast process where barium sulfate is injected into the rectum to outline the large intestine; and the double-contrast way in which barium and air are passed into the rectum. Purpose of Recommending Barium Enema The goal of a barium enema is to display the structure and form of the large intestine. The large intestine structures the abdomen and is characterized into six segments. These are rectum, descending colon, transverse colon, cecum, sigmoid colon, and ascending colon.

A barium enema can be conducted for various reasons, viz., abdominal pain or a change in bowel activity patterns like as diarrhea or constipation or change in the caliber of the stools. It can also be conducted when mucus, parasites, blood, or pus are detected in the stools. Hidden blood found in the stools and anemia may indicate of intestinal bleeding due to inflammatory disease, ulcers, or a cancerous injury. Preparation for Barium Enema To perform the accurate barium enema exam, the patient should strictly stay on recommended diet plan and bowel preparation before the test. This may include a diet of tea, coffee (black), light soups, and gelatin 24-48 hours prior to the barium enema. Cathartics and laxatives, for instance, Dulcolax tablets or magnesium citrate (X-Prep) or may also be recommended as part of the bowel preparation. Each radiology section has its own particular requirements.

A rectal suppository or cleansing enema may be imperative on the morning prior to the exam. Patients must intake plenty of fluids to ward off dehydration. Patients suffering with heart disease, kidney disorder or diabetes should consult their doctor for a substitute bowel preparation. Children are generally placed on a clear liquid food on the day prior to their examination. A barium enema can be performed in a clinic or a certified x-ray dispensary and may require 30 minutes to one hour.

The time stretch is based on the type of exam has been prescribed and the physical ability of the patient. Aftercare Patients should stick to various steps immediately after undergoing a barium enema that may include:

  • Drinking enough fluids to enable simmer down the dehydrating effects of the bowel preparation.
  • The patient must take rest. A barium enema and the bowel preparation taken prior to it can be tiring.
  • A cleansing laxative or enema may be offered to curb any left out barium.

White stools carrying barium are common for two or three days after a barium enema. Complications Involved While a barium enema is believed to be a safe screening test performed on a routine basis, it can create complications in a few patients.

The following precautions should be taken into account prior to performing a barium enema:

  • Individuals having fast heart rate, severe ulcerative colitis, toxic megacolon or a presumed hole in the intestine must not take a barium enema.

The test should be cautiously conducted if the patient has a blocked intestine. Gastrograffin, an iodine-based contrast, can be facilitated instead of the barium if emergency surgery is required after the barium enema. Results A normal result signals no structural or filling abnormalities of the large intestine. Radiologists diagnose for enlargement or tapering of the large intestine as well as variations in the mucosal lining. The walls of the intestine should shrink generally after the post-evacuation film. Abnormal results may signal diverticulosis (several unusual sacs bulging through the intestinal wall), colorectal polyps, ulcerative colitis, or tumors witnessed on the walls or adjacent to the large intestine. Further evaluation like biopsy or CT scan may be imperative to determine the extent of any positive reports. Healthcare Team Roles It is the liability of the radiography professionals to make the barium, insert the enema tip, and take the overhead films after the radiologist has filled the whole colon with either the barium or barium and air both. In some departments a secondary radiology technologist will conduct the complete process. The radiology technologist would have had additional qualification and training by the radiologists to perform this duty. The x-ray specialist must work jointly with the nurses to ensure all hospital patients follow the bowel preparation. Since the preparation is physically tiring for the patient, it should be ensured that complete exam is conducted as soon as possible so the patient may resume a normal diet.


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