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Colon contrast enema

What is a colon contrast enema?

This diagnostic imaging test takes an image of the large colon.

Commonly referred to as barium enemas, contrast enemas use a water soluble contrast agent to show the structure of the lower gastrointestinal tract which includes the colon on an x-ray study.

Why might a colon contrast enema be needed?

Your child will be having this test to establish the presence or absence, nature or extent of disease affecting the lower gastrointestinal tract. Imaging from colon contrast studies can reveal abnormalities related to:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Lower intestinal obstructions

How can I prepare for the test?

  • If your child is under 18 years of age, now bowel prep is needed.
  • Bring a picture ID and insurance information.
  • Please arrive 30 minutes before your appointment time.

What should I expect during the colon contrast enema test?

This study will take approximately one hour. If age or developmentally appropriate, your child and family will first meet with a child life specialist.

We will have them change into a hospital gown and an abdominal x-ray will be obtained.

Your physician will insert an enema tip in to the rectum while your child is laying down on a fluoroscopy table moving in different positions. During this time, a contrast agent will flows in to their colon so the radiologist can take images using fluoroscopy x-ray equipment.

The enema tip will be removed and your child will use the restroom to evacuate contrast. Once that is done, a post evacuation x-ray will be taken as well.

After-care information

Your child may resume normal activity, eating and drinking after exam unless otherwise specified by your physician.

Unless fluids are restricted by the doctor, they should drink more fluids than normal to help the contrast move out of their system.

Follow-up care after the procedure

Results will be available 1-2 business days on the patient portal and to your ordering physician. For your child's results, please contact the physician that ordered your test.

Contact information for any questions or concerns

If you have any questions, please contact us at (804) 628-4998 and ask for a radiology technologist. If it is after hours, please call (804) 828-3699.


Meet the team

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Kathryn S. Jones, MD
Kathryn Jones MD Radiology Read more
Laura Lee, MRS
Laura Lee MRS Radiology Read more
Eman Mahdi, MD
Eman Mahdi MD Radiology Read more
Chakradhar Mishra, MD
Chakradhar Mishra MD Radiology Read more
Gregory Vorona, MD
Gregory Vorona MD Radiology Read more


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