Are there any risks or side effects?

A barium enema is generally a very safe procedure, although there a few risks and side effects that you should be aware of.


  • laxative side effects side effects such as feeling sick, a mild headache and bloating are common, but shouldn't last long
  • barium side effects barium is usually harmless, but it can cause an upset stomach or constipation,and itcan cause an allergic reaction in very rare cases
  • radiation exposure you'll be exposed to asmall amount of radiation during the test;this is about the equivalent to what you would receive naturally from the environment over three years(for more information, see GOV.UK: patient dose information )
  • bowel perforation there's a risk of a small hole developing inyour bowel as a result of the procedure, but thisisvery rare

Your doctor can help you weigh up the risks of the procedure against the benefits of identifying any problem in your bowel.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018