How It Feels
A barium enema procedure can be uncomfortable and tiring, but usually it does not last very long.
Many people report that the preparation and bowel cleaning are the hardest parts of the test. The laxative may have an unpleasant taste, and the frequent bowel movements can be tiring. Also, the anal area can become quite sore during the process. Warm Reference sitz baths Opens New Window or a local anesthetic salve, such as Preparation H, can help ease this discomfort.
You may be embarrassed by the test. You may worry that you won't be able to hold the barium and that it will leak onto you or onto the table. The doctors who perform this procedure are accustomed to this and will be able to help you.
The X-ray table is hard and sometimes cold because air-conditioning is used to keep the equipment cool. When the barium first flows into your colon, it may feel a bit cool. As your colon fills, you may feel a sensation of fullness, moderate cramping, and a strong urge to have a bowel movement. If an air-contrast study is performed, you may feel increased cramping or gas pains from having gas pumped into your large intestine. Taking slow, deep breaths through your mouth can help you relax.
The test may take awhile, so you may want to bring something to do quietly (like a book or magazine to read).
You may feel tired for a day or so after the test. You should arrange for someone to drive you home after the test. This test can be exhausting.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference April 25, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology