Preparing for a barium enema

To ensure the X-ray images taken during a barium enema are clear, your bowel must be empty before the test. The hospital should send you instructions on what you need to do to prepare.

You'll normally be askedto:

  • eat alight diet for a few days leading up to the test only eat low-fibre foods, such as clear soup, white bread and lean meat
  • take laxative medication you'll be given medication that makes you empty your bowels frequently to take from the day before the test
  • drink plenty of fluids this will help to replace the fluids you lose each timeyou empty your bowels

It's usually a good idea to stay at home the day before the test, as the laxative medication will make you go to the toilet frequently.

Contact the hospital as soon as you receive your appointment letter if you have diabetes or are pregnant (or think you could be pregnant).

Barium enemas aren't done during pregnancy, because the X-rays may harm the baby. If you have diabetes, you'll need to follow special instructions to ensureyour blood sugar level is kept under control.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018