Barium Enema

A barium enema is an examination of the large intestine. It involves filling the large intestine with barium sulfate and water mixture. It is used to help diagnosis diseases such as: colon cancer, polyps, narrowing of the intestine or unexplained weight loss.


One day prior to the exam

  • Clear liquid diet only. Please drink plenty of liquids. No MILK or MILK products.
  • Purchase 1 bottle of MIRA LAX 8.3 oz. and 2 Dulcolax tablets or Bisacodyl tablets. These items are available over the counter.
  • At 3p.m. the day before your procedure take 2 Dulcolax tablets with a large glass of water.
  • At 5 p.m. mix the bottle of MIRA LAX in 64 oz. of Gatorade, Powerade, or any clear liquid (not red, orange or blue). Shake or stir the solution until the MIRA Lax is dissolved. Drink an 8 oz. glass every 10-15 minutes until all of the solution is gone.
  • You may continue to have clear liquids until midnight. Jell-O (not red, orange, or blue), clear broth, apple juice, tea, coffee (no cream).
  • Nothing to eat or drink after midnight.


Day of the exam

  • Take your usual medications with a small amount of water
  • If you are diabetic, DO NOT take your diabetic medication, but bring it with you.


During the exam

Once you are on the x-ray table, you will be asked to lie on your side. An enema tube will be inserted gently into your rectum allowing the barium mixture to flow slowly into your colon. A small balloon on the enema tip will inflate slightly to help hold in the barium. The radiologist will watch the barium as it flows through your colon. You will be asked to turn in different direction while pictures (x-rays) are taken.  Once completed, the enema tip is removed and you will be escorted to a bathroom to get rid of the barium. You will then return to the table for a few more x-rays.

After the exam

For the next day or two, your bowel movement may look white or pinkish. Do not be alarmed, as this is normal. Drink plenty of water and resume your regular diet.