Contrast Enema X-ray

Contrast Enema X-ray

Having a Contrast Enema

Your child has been scheduled for a contrast enema. Please arrive 20 minutes before your child's scheduled exam. This will allow time for you to register your child for the exam.

Please bring:

  • Your child's insurance card
  • A list of any medicines (prescription and over the counter) that your child is currently taking
  • Your child's immunization record
  • Your child's Express ID Card, if you have one

What is a contrast enema X-ray?

A contrast enema is a way for your doctor to learn more about your child's large intestine (colon). It involves a series of X-ray pictures taken while the large intestine is being filled with a special contrast.

Getting Ready for the Test

Depending on the reason a contrast enema is ordered, the preps can vary. Please read and follow the instructions listed under the Enema Patient Prep. It is very important that the instructions are followed closely.

When you arrive at the Radiology Department, one of the radiographers (the person who will be taking your child's X-ray) will explain how the exam will be done.

Some questions will be asked about allergies (if any). This is important before any medicines or X-ray contrast (dye) is given to your child. Your child will then be taken into a room where there will be a large X-ray camera and a TV set. Your child may be asked to change into a gown. This is to keep buttons and zippers from showing up on your child's X-ray picture.

Patient Prep

Double contrast enema

  • Polyps
  • Rectal bleeding

10 - 16 Years Old:

  • Low residue diet for 48 hours before the exam
  • Clear liquid diet for 24 hours before the exam
  • No milk or milk products for 24 hours before the exam
  • Nothing by mouth (NPO) 4 hours before the exam
  • 2 ounces of castor oil in grape juice or root beer at 4 p.m. on the day before the exam
  • Pediatric Fleet enema at 8 p.m. (the evening before the exam)
  • Pediatric Fleet enema 3 hours before the exam

Over 16 years:

Same prep as 10 - 16 years except use an Adult Fleet enema

Air enema

  • Intussusception

No prep needed

Contrast enema (colon) for chronic constipation
No prep needed

During the Test

The radiographer will help your child lie on the table and will ask your child to be very still for the pictures. The radiographer will move the camera so that it is over your child's body. The camera will not hurt or touch your child. The radiographer will then go to another part of the room to take your child's picture. You will hear a buzz when the picture is taken.

After the picture is taken, a special tube will need to be placed into your child's bottom (rectum). This tube will allow the contrast to flow into your child's large intestine during the test. The tube will be taped in place once the tube is inserted so that it will not slip out as the pictures are taken. The tube will be connected to a bag filled with contrast. After a short wait, the lights will be turned down low and the TV set will be turned on.

The radiologist (an X-ray doctor) will move the camera so that it is over your child's body and will begin the test. As the contrast begins to flow, your child may feel like he/she needs to go to the bathroom. During this time, it may help to take slow, deep breaths. Your radiographer will help your child during this time.

During the test the radiologist will have your child turn from side to side and may also press on your child's stomach with a big glove to move the contrast around.

When the radiologist wants to take a picture, he will ask your child to hold his/her breath and lie very still. The camera will make a clicking noise when the picture is taken.
Once the child's colon is filled with the contrast, the radiographer will take a few more pictures. The tube will then be removed and your child will be allowed to go to the bathroom. When your child feels like he or she has gotten rid of most of the contrast in his/her colon, one more picture will be taken.

The entire test will take 30 minutes to an hour.

After the Test

There's a short wait while the X-rays are reviewed. Sometimes, it may be necessary to take more pictures. When everything is finished, your child will be released. The radiologist will then tell your child's doctor the results of the test.

Note: After the test is over, there may still be contrast present in the colon. Therefore, it is important your child drink plenty of liquids (water, juices) for the next few days to avoid constipation.

Commonly Asked Questions About the Exam

How long will the exam take?
The exam will generally take thirty minutes to an hour. In some cases, it may take longer.

When will I know the results of the exam?
The radiologist will let your doctor know the results of your child's exam. Your doctor will then discuss the results of the exam with you.

Will it hurt when the enema tip (tube) is inserted?
It will feel a little uncomfortable when the tube is being inserted. Taking in a deep breath while it is being done will help the tube slide in easier.