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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

How It's Done

You will remove your clothing and put on a hospital gown. You will lie on your side on an X-ray table. A tube will be inserted into your rectum and you will be given an enema of barium fluid. As the fluid flows into your intestines, you may feel a little discomfort, pressure or the urge to move your bowels. While you hold the fluid inside your bowels, the X-ray technician will take a series of pictures. To allow the barium fluid to flow into different parts of your bowels, you will change position on the table, and the table itself may be rotated.

Once the X-rays are complete, you will go to a nearby bathroom (or be given a bedpan) to pass the barium fluid from your bowels. You will then have a second series of X-rays. This time, air is gently pumped into your rectum. This air, together with the thin film of barium fluid still in your intestines, will help to enhance the images of your intestinal lining.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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