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lower gi exam

A lower gastrointestinal (GI) exam can reveal if there are any problems with the large intestine.

A lower GI series, also known as a barium enema, uses x-rays to diagnose problems in the colon and rectum. A lower GI may show abnormal growths, ulcers, polyps or other problems.

Preparing for Your Lower GI

You should have no solid foods - only liquids - on the day before your exam. Your doctor may suggest laxatives, suppositories, or a Fleet enema to help clean your colon and ensure the effectiveness of the procedure. Please refrain from drinking or eating anything after midnight on the night before the exam.

Arrive early for your appointment so that you have plenty of time to check in and change from your street clothes into a hospital gown.

Let the Technologist Know...

  • If you're pregnant or you think you might be
  • When you last ate or drank
  • If you didn't do or finish the preparation activities

During Your Lower GI

A technologist will assist you onto a specially designed, tilting table. As you lie on your side, a lubricated enema tube is inserted into your rectum. Your colon is then filled with a liquid barium mixture so that it shows up on x-rays. Air may also be added to the enema to enhance the images. You may feel a little discomfort and a feeling of pressure in your abdomen during the procedure.

You may be asked to roll from side to side and to occasionally hold your breath. After a series of x-rays have been completed, you will be allowed to go to the bathroom and expel the barium. A lower GI series takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour.


After Your Exam

After the exam you may return to normal activities and your usual diet, but drink more water than usual to help relieve any constipation. It's normal for your stool to be discolored for a few days after the procedure. Your doctor will let you know when the results are in.