barium enema

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An imaging technique for examination of the large bowel. Prior bowel cleansing is usually required with a colonic cleansing preparation; intravenous hyoscine butylbromide (Buscopan) or glucagon is usually given to reduce colonic spasm. A tube is then inserted into the rectum through the anus, and barium sulphate is run into the bowel to the caecum. For double contrast, air is then pumped through the tube to distend the colon. A series of radiographs is then taken, usually on a tilting table with the patient lying and standing. Barium enema is used mainly to identify cancers, polyps, and diverticular disease in the colon. Its role has been largely taken over by colonoscopy as this latter technique enables mucosal sampling and therapeutic interventions.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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