Know Before You Go: Kids

What is a Barium Enema?

A barium enema is x-ray pictures of the large intestine.  These pictures help your doctor see how well your large intestine is working.  

What will happen during my Barium Enema?

You will be asked to put on a hospital gown and take off your pants, underwear, shoes and socks.  You will lie on the bed when it is time to take your pictures.  Once on the exam bed, you will roll on your side with your knees bent up towards your stomach.  A small, bendy tube will go into your bottom where your poop comes out.  Some kids say it feels weird and it may be uncomfortable. Your bottom will be taped to help keep the tube in place.  

The tube will then connect to a bag of special water that helps the doctors to see your large intestine on a TV screen. This special water goes through the tube and can make you feel like you have to use the bathroom, but try to hold it for the pictures.  

The camera will move over the top of you but will not touch you or hurt you.  The camera makes humming and clicking noises whenever it takes your picture.  You may be asked to turn onto each side to have your pictures taken.

Once all the pictures are taken, the tape will be taken off and the tube will come out.  You will then be able to use the bathroom.

The doctor will take one more picture after you use the bathroom.  After this picture, you are finished!

Know Before You Go: Parents

Helpful Info

Caregivers are able to remain in the room with their child as long as they are not pregnant. Your child may bring comfort items from home, such as a favorite blanket or stuffed animal.  You may want to bring an extra pair of clothes/diapers for your child in case of an accident.  Your child will likely have increased bowel movements following this exam.

Parent Role

You can help your child stay calm and relaxed by remaining calm yourself. One parent is welcome to stand at the head of the bed. We encourage you to talk to your child and provide comforting touch during the exam. You can help your child relax his/her muscles by taking deep breaths together. 

Important Notes

You know your child best and know how much information they can handle.  Talking with your child about this exam prior to arriving is important and beneficial in reducing anxiety.  If you would like to speak to a child life specialist to discuss your child’s coping during this appointment, please call 314.454.6139.  The technologist completing the exam can also page Child Life the day of your appointment for additional support.

Practice Tips:

  • Practice taking deep breaths with your child.  This can help their muscles relax which will allow the tube to go in easier.  Make this into a fun game by blowing bubbles or a pinwheel!