Small bowel enema

Barium sulphate is a liquid, which is opaque to x-rays and, therefore, shows up on film.

In this examination it is administered through a tube to outline the small bowel.


A laxative solution (1 sachet of Picolax) is given to clear out the bowel and a restricted diet is followed.


Boiled egg
White toast
Black tea or coffee


White meat
White fish

Boiled or mashed potatoes or rice
(No vegetables)
(No fruit)

Fruit flavoured jelly
Plain yoghurt
Black tea or coffee
Fruit squash


Clear soup
Fruit flavoured jelly
Black tea or coffee
Fruit squash

You will be asked to eat or drink nothing for 6 hours prior to the time of the examination. You may take your usual medication.

The Examination

A soft, plastic tube is passed in through the nose and down the throat into the stomach and into the small bowel. A local anaesthetic spray into the nose or throat may allow a smooth and more comfortable passage of the tube.

Barium liquid is then put down the tube and a series of x-rays is taken. Sometimes the barium is slow to pass into the small bowel and the procedure may take up to one hour.

After the Test

The radiologist can review the films and send a report to your doctor.

If a local anaesthetic spray has been used, you should not eat or drink for two hours after the x-ray.

A laxative is given following the procedure to allow the barium to be passed out of the bowel more easily, and your bowel motions will be white for the next few days.