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. 


  • If you are having an Upper GI study performed on the same day, the Barium Enema must be done first.
  • 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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