There is very little risk of complications from having a barium enema.
- Occasionally the barium remaining in the colon hardens, causing severe constipation (impaction) or obstruction. To decrease the risk of impaction, drink extra fluids following the procedure and, if your doctor recommends it, take an enema or mild laxative after the test.
- In rare cases, barium can cause inflamed areas in the colon called barium granulomas.
- Perforation of the bowel is a more serious, but very rare complication. Under the pressure from the barium or air, a weakened section of the colon may break open, allowing the intestinal contents to spill into the abdominal cavity. It may occur in people whose bowel wall has been weakened by intestinal problems, such as inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease.
Call your doctor immediately if you:
- Have rectal bleeding.
- Have severe abdominal pain.
- Develop a fever.
- Do not have a bowel movement within several days after the test.
|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