|Use of a milky solution (barium sulfate) given by enema to allow x-ray
examination of the large intestine
A barium enema is a special enema solution that is used to help take a picture of the inside of your colon then an x-ray is taken. Barium sulfate is used in an enema solution because it shows up on x-rays (your colon, which is soft tissue does not show up well on x-rays).
Generally there is a feeling of being full during the procedure, expect moderate to severe cramping, an urgent need to defecate, and a general feeling of discomfort. The x-ray itself is painless.
It's a neat trick for the medical world to use when diagnosing colon problems. For the rest of us though, barium enemas don't really do anything (unless you tinker with x-ray machines).
CT scans and ultrasounds are now the test of choice in the initial evaluation of abdominal / colon problems.
If doctors suspect something wrong with your colon (such as colon cancer) they will take a picture of the inner walls of your colon by giving you a barium enema, then taking an x-ray. What they will get is a picture of the barium that has distended the colon and stuck to the inner walls of your colon. They can then analyze this picture for irregularities that might suggest malignant growths (such as tumors, etc.) Sometimes they have you expel most of the barium and inject air or CO2 into the colon and then take another series of x-rays.
It's a good tool for the medical world to use when diagnosing colon problems. For the rest of us though, barium enemas don't really do anything other than making you very uncomfortable during the procedure. (unless you mess around with x-ray machines).
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Warning: Do not use enemas
or laxatives if abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting are present unless directed by your
health care provider.
Rectal bleeding or failure to have a bowel movement after use of a laxative or enema may indicate a serious condition.
Discontinue use and consult your health care provider.
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