First Time User? Sign Up Now
For the visually-impaired, please click here.
Home > Health Library > Barium enema
A barium enema, or lower gastrointestinal (GI) examination, is an X-ray examination of the large intestine (colon and rectum). The test is used to help find problems that affect the large intestine.
To make the intestine visible on an X-ray picture, the colon is filled with a white barium contrast material. The contrast material is put through a tube placed in the anus. The barium blocks X-rays, so the barium-filled colon shows up clearly on the X-ray picture.
A barium enema may be done to check for the cause of rectal bleeding or blood in the stool. The test may help find diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulosis. Other problems can also be found during a barium enema, such as a large polyp or colon cancer.
Current as of: December 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Jerome B. Simon MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.