Wayyyy off topic, Has anyone endured a barium enema?

I would like to talk to anyone who has gone through this procedure, even through email instead of here on the site if you prefer. I am having to have one next month so that I can then have my reattachment surgery in April and I have questions that I would like answered by someone who actually had the procedure not just a nurse who knows the technical stuff.

If you are willing to talk to me about it, but want to do so privately, send me a PM and I can give you my email address.

Thanks, Donna

I happen to be a nurse who HAS had one. It’s one of the more humiliating procedures I’ve ever endured but not painful (other than my pride). I’d be glad to answer any questions you might have.

Thank you for your kindness. I had another sweet lady respond and basically ask her the same things as I did here, except what I posed to you was a bit more specific because you are a nurse.
Well, since I had to have emergency colon surgery, had it all opened up, now have a colostomy bag, my pride or embarrassment is not anything I am worried about. I am sure they have seen fat people with their heinies in the air before! :slight_smile: I am not really one who is modest anyway so believe me, if that is the worst I am free and clear! :slight_smile:

I know how it is done and I know that it is going to be uncomfortable, I guess it depends on the person as to how much, but this is basically some of the stuff I need to know. Just how uncomfortable is it, like menstrual cramps type uncomfortable or really painful? This is not some optional test, I have to have it before I can get my colon reconnected. How will my obesity effect the test or does it?

Did you have just the barium or did they do the second contrast study with the air put in after the barium was let out? Just how much discomfort were you in and did you have to hold it in very long? I know the test can take around an hour, but lord I hope you don’t have to try and hold the barium in for an hour! I also have a stoma, and as I said I have a colostomy bag now. According to the nurse, they will be putting barium in both ends, rectally and in through the stoma! Sounds dumb when I pose it, but since you are a nurse you might know. With most people, the barium is just released rectally into the toilet, does the stuff that goes through my stoma come out of its own free will ok just like stool does into my ostomy bag? I read that you have to take in lots of water to get the barium all out so it doesn’t harden and I was just concerned because most of mine will need to come out through my stoma since my colon isn’t connected to my rectum at the moment.

That is pretty much what I wanted to know so I am prepared when I go in. Oh and what did they give you to drink the day before to “purge” so to speak. I only dread it if it is castor oil.

You are so sweet to help me with the questions!

Well, let’s see if I can cover all the bases. I was given something called “golightly” which made you do anything BUT, it was a rather large container of a rather salty (but not unpalatable) mixture, not unlike gatoraid that I had to drink a glass an hour starting sometime in the afternoon before the test. I know they also use mag citrate and oral fleets so the prep depends on physician preference.

The prep was actually the worst part. I have irritable bowel and that certainly irritated it. I didn’t get alot of sleep the night before because of running to the bathroom.

I had both the air and the enema. I don’t know that I would even call it painful, crampy like bad gas but not “painful”. But of course every person is different and how they perceive pain is different but I don’t know that I have ever had anyone tell me it really hurt.

It was difficult holding the barium in, I’m not going to kid you about that. I squeezed my butt checks till I thought I’d pop. After my first set of pictures they saw something they wanted a better picture of so they said HOLD IT A LITTLE LONGER (HA!!). I held it as long as I could but must admit to having a bit of an accident. But that happens all the time so other then me being embarressed it was no big deal.

With an ostomy I don’t know how it works, you certainly don’t have control over that!!
Barium can set up like cement in your intestines and cause lots of problems so they told me to drink lots and lots of fluids the few days following. I seem to remember they even told me to use metamucil to help move the barium through. I followed instructions and had no difficulties but the barium did appear in my stool for a couple days. Undoubtedly you will notice an increase in bulk of the stool in your ostomy bag, and it’s a chalky color which initially makes things look a bit funky.
I really don’t know how it all works with your ostomy, I would imagine it moves thorugh like it’s supposed to and I am sure they will encourage you to drink lots of fluids as well. As for the colon below the ostomy my “guess” and it’s only a guess, is that if they feel you are healed enough for re anastamosis then you should have no trouble passing the barium.
I now have colonoscopies every couple years so haven’t had to have the barium again, I’m not sure which is better. At lease with a colonoscopy you get to sleep through the indignity!!!

BEST WISHES for a good outcome. I am sure you must be anxious to have the ostomy undone. I have know several young women who have gone through the same ordeal and done very well.

You just don’t appreciate the joy of using the john till you can’t!

Thank you Ginny, you are a peach!

I’m an x-ray tech, and have been both on the giving and receiving end of a BE. No, it does NOT take an hour! The scheduled time may be an hour, but the test itself takes about 10, [I]maybe[/I] 15 minutes. For a BE, you don’t normally have to take golightly. That is usually used as a prep for a colonoscopy. At the office I work, we give out a special BE prep kit that includes some laxative pills and a suppository. You eat a clear liquid diet and do the prep the day before the BE. Yes, having a barium enema is very uncomfortable, and it’s a concern that you may lose the barium, but the enema tip has a balloon on it that is inflated after insertion and that helps to keep the barium and air in your colon. Yes, accidents happen, and the techs are used to that, so don’t worry about it.

There [I]usually[/I] is no problem with the barium setting up after a BE. That is more of a concern with an upper GI, although it’s still pretty uncommon. As long as you drink your liquids like the tech will advise you after the test, you shouldn’t have any problems. One thing…barium is not absorbed by the body. It goes in white and comes out white. The barium should leave your body however it normally gets rid of stool, although since they plan to put it in both the stoma and the rectum, it’ll probably be evacuated from both as well.

Good luck with your tests. It’s not a lot of fun. Be sure to treat yourself afterward. (lunch? yarn? both?)


Huge thanks to all of you who responded to me about this. I can now go forward knowing what to expect!:muah: :hug:

Jennifer, I was looking at a ladies catalogue yesterday and spied a handbag I loved. I am a handbag nut (I have about 60) to the chagrin of my dh. He told me to order it to take to Indiana when we go in April to visit my family as a present for having my procedure done so I may do that.

I’m behind you D!!! (figuratively, not literally!) You are going to come through this with flying colors! :slight_smile:

Donna, my hugs and prayers are with you. My mother had her reattachment almost a year ago and still is having problems. Though it may have more to do with the original problem (colo-rectal cancer). Sometimes she says she wishes she had left it alone. As far as the BE goes, she never told me anything about that. I really don’t think she had that done before reattachment, since she was told she would have the surgery the day before she had it done. Best Wishes.

I have had a lot of surgeries, most are back related. I didn’t realize that my fanny was up in the air :blush: for alot of these surgeries until I was in nursing school and during clinical I actually witnessed a back surgery being done, LOL!
I wish you a good outcome (no pun intended,lol)and please let all of us know how you did! I think a lot of times a good sense of humor about these medical procedures for all involved is a really good thing!!:hug: