What happens during a double-contrast barium enema?

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A double-contrast barium enema about 30 to 45 minutes, and does not require sedation. For this test, you lie on a table on your side in an x-ray room. A small, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum, and barium sulfate is pumped in to partially fill and open up the colon. When the colon is about half-full of barium, you are turned on the x-ray table so the barium spreads throughout the colon. Then air is pumped into the colon through the same tube to make it expand. This may cause some discomfort, and you may feel the urge to have a bowel movement.
X-ray pictures of the lining of your colon are then taken, allowing the doctor to look for polyps or cancers. You may be asked to change positions so that different views of the colon and rectum can be seen on the x-rays.
If polyps or other suspicious areas are seen on this test, a colonoscopy will likely be needed to remove them or to explore them fully.

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Diagnostic Procedures

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.