Lower GI X-rays
A lower gastrointestinal (GI) series uses x-rays to diagnose
problems in the large intestine, which includes the colon
and rectum. The lower GI series may show problems like abnormal
growths, ulcers, polyps, and diverticuli, and colon cancer.
Before taking x-rays of your colon and rectum, the radiologist
will put thick liquid called barium into your colon. This
is why a lower GI series is sometimes called a barium enema.
The barium coats the lining of the colon and rectum and makes
these organs, and any signs of disease in them, show up more
clearly on x-rays. It also helps the radiologist see the size
and shape of the colon and rectum.
You may be uncomfortable during the lower GI series. The
barium will cause fullness and pressure in your abdomen and
will make you feel the urge to have a bowel movement. However,
that rarely happens because the tube used to inject the barium
has a balloon on the end of it that prevents the liquid from
coming back out.
You may be asked to change positions while x-rays are taken.
Different positions give different views of the intestines.
After the radiologist is finished taking x-rays, you will
be able to go to the bathroom. The radiologist may also take
an x ray of the empty colon afterwards.
A lower GI series takes about 1 to 2 hours. The barium may
cause constipation and make your stool turn gray or white
for a few days after the procedure.
Your colon must be empty for the procedure to be accurate.
To prepare for the procedure you will have to restrict your
diet for a few days beforehand. For example, you might be
able to drink only liquids and eat only non-sugar, nondairy
foods for 2 days before the procedure; only clear liquids
the day before; and nothing after midnight the night before.
A liquid diet means fat-free bouillon or broth, gelatin, strained
fruit juice, water, plain coffee, plain tea, or diet soda.
To make sure your colon is empty, you will be given a laxative
or an enema before the procedure. Your physician may give
you other special instructions.
1. Video: Barium
Enema Tutorial - The National Library of Medicine http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorials/bariumenema/htm/index.htm