• Water Soluble Enema

    Estimated time: One hour

    Anatomy involved: Large bowel or colon

    Performed by: Radiologist (physician), technologist, fluoroscopy assistant

    Preparation: None required unless patient is allergic to iodinated contrast material. Patients with ostomies having gastrointestinal studies should bring extra bags on the day of the examination.


    A water soluble enema is an X-ray examination of the large bowel or colon frequently used to evaluate constipation or for possible obstruction.


    Before and During the Exam

    A preliminary X-ray of the abdomen will be obtained before the exam begins. A fluoroscopy assistant will then lead you into a fluoroscopy room, give you a brief explanation of what you can expect, and prepare you for the test by inserting a small tube into your rectum.

    A radiologist will then start the exam by inflating a small balloon on the enema tip to hold the tube in place. You may feel slight pressure as the balloon is inflated, but it will pass. A water-soluble contrast media containing iodine is then introduced into the colon via the enema tip. The inflated balloon on the enema tip is specially designed to help you hold the contrast material in the rectum. If you have a known allergy to iodinated contrast material or intravenous X-ray dye, you must notify your physician well in advance so that a preliminary preparation may be administered to prevent an allergic reaction during the exam. As the contrast media fills your colon, you may feel the need to move your bowels. You may also feel abdominal pressure or possibly even minor cramping. These are common sensations, and most patients tolerate the mild discomfort without difficulty.

    The radiologist will then have you move in different positions so that the contrast will fill the large bowel. As the test proceeds, the radiologist will take "spot" films or small X-rays of particular areas. The radiologist may also apply mild focal pressure to parts of your abdomen during the examination to better visualize certain structures. When the radiologist is finished, the technologist may then take a series of X-rays while placing you in various positions on the X-ray table. After the radiologist reviews your images, you will be taken to the bathroom to evacuate the enema.


    After the Exam

    Once the exam is complete, the radiologist will interpret your images. Upon completion of the interpretation you will be instructed to proceed with your chart to your next appointment.

    If you encounter any problem in following these instructions, or if a situation arises that does not appear to be covered here, please call your Lahey physician at (781) 744-5100.

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