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Barium Enema (cont.)

Barium Enema Risks

Patient Comments

Aggressive bowel cleansing may cause hypokalemia (low potassium) and/or dehydration in some patients; the elderly are at higher risk for these complications than otherwise healthy adults.

Occasionally, the barium that remains in the colon can harden into clumps and has the potential to cause constipation or even impaction (intestinal blockage). This risk is reduced by taking plenty of fluids by mouth after the test; some radiologists recommend a post-test laxative or enema for patients.

Rarely, small clumps of barium retained in the bowel, termed barium granulomas, may cause inflammation in the colon.

During the barium enema procedure, the contrast material may rarely, perforate the colon and spill into the abdominal cavity. The lining of the abdominal cavity may become infected (the condition is called chemical peritonitis). The colon may narrow and become blocked.

Because of these possible problems, certain people (individuals with weakened bowel walls that may occur with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease) may not be good candidates for this procedure.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/20/2014

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Barium Enema:

Barium Enema - Experience

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Barium Enema - Uses

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Barium Enema - Risks

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