Lower GI Barium Radiology

What is a barium enema?  

A barium enema, also called a lower GI, is a type of x-ray that looks at the large intestine (colon). Barium (a white chalky liquid) is used to so the bowel can be seen on x-ray. A soft tube is place into the rectum and the barium is given as an enema. This test is done in the radiology department.


What will happen before the test?

  • Your child will be asked to remove their cloths and put on a hospital gown
  • You and your child will be taken into an x-ray room where you will see a TV screen and a table with a big camera
  • A bag full of white fluid called barium with a tube connected to it will be hanging on a pole at the end of the bed

What will happen during the test?

  • Your child will be asked to lie on the stretcher on their left side with their knees pulled up to their stomach and the tube with the barium will be inserted into your child’s rectum
  • The doctor will then let the barium run into your child’s colon
  • Pictures will be taken while your child is on their side, back and stomach
  • The barium may cause your child to have a full feeling and a few stomach cramps. This is a normal feeling. When this happens slow deep breathing helps
  • After all the pictures have been taken the enema tip will be removed and your child can go to the bathroom
  • Abdominal cramping usually stops after your child goes to the bathroom

What happens after the test?

  • After the doctor is satisfied with the pictures your child may get dressed and go home
  • The entire test from start to finish takes about 45 minutes

Preparation for your child’s Barium Enema  

If your child is 0 – 2 years old: 

  • No preparation is needed  

If your child is 2 – 6 years old:

  • Low residue meal (the day before and morning of examination. Examples of low residue foods are boiled chicken, grilled white fish, rice, white bread, potatoes without skins, yogurt, honey and thin soup.
  • Take one Bisacodyl tablet (5 mg) – whole – with water before going to bed.
  • A Paediatric Fleet Enema should be given early in the morning on the day of exam; available from drug store without prescription

If your child is 6 – 15 years old:

  • Same preparation as for 2 – 6 years, but take two Bisacodyl tablets (5 mg) – whole – with water before going to bed
  • No preparation