Barium is a milky fluid that absorbs
x-rays. Barium is placed into the bowels through the rectum. This is called an enema. Barium coats the lining of the lower intestines. This makes that area easier to see on an x-ray.
Tell your doctor if you are allergic to latex or barium.
Your bowel must be empty before this test. Your doctor may ask you to:
Eat a clear liquid diet.
Use a warm water or over-the-counter enema.
Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
Description of Test
A well-lubricated enema tube will be gently inserted into your rectum. You may be given an injection to relax the rectum. Barium will be inserted through the tube. A small balloon at the end of the tube will be inflated. This balloon keeps the barium inside. You will be moved several times to make sure the barium coats the walls of the colon and rectum. A small amount of air will be inserted through the tube. A series of x-rays will be taken. After this, the enema tube will be removed.
Barium enema. McKinley Health Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated June 14, 2011. Accessed October 3, 2017.
Lower GI series. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/lower-gi-series.
Updated June 2016. Accessed October 3, 2017.
X-ray (radiography)—lower GI tract. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at:
https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=lowergi. Updated March 1, 2017. Accessed October 3, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daus Mahnke, MD Last Updated: 9/3/2014