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Pediatric Diagnostic Imaging

When Your Child's Having a Contrast Enema

​​What is a contrast enema?

A contrast enema is an exam that takes x-ray pictures of the large bowel (colon).

How does my child get ready for the exam?

You’ll be told if your child has to do anything to get ready for the exam.

Where is the exam done?

Your child will be taken into a room that has a large camera over a table. This room is often a little cool.

What happens during the exam?

A doctor and a technologist will do the exam. Your child will have to change into a hospital gown.

There will be a plastic bag full of liquid hanging on a pole. A plastic tube will be connected to the bag. The liquid is called contrast. The contrast outlines the inside of the colon and lets the x-rays “see” what the inside of your child’s colon looks like.

Your child will start the exam by lying on their left side on the table, with the knees pulled up close to their stomach. A little bit of the tube attached to the bag will be gently slid into your child’s rectum. This may feel a little uncomfortable. Tape will be used on your child’s skin to hold the tube in place.

The doctor will let some of the contrast from the bag slowly run down the tube and into the colon. While looking at a TV screen, the doctor may stop and start the flow of the contrast.

X-ray pictures will be taken as the contrast moves through your child’s colon. It’s important your child try to lie very still while the pictures are being taken.

The doctor may ask your child to move into different positions during the exam. This helps the contrast move through their colon, which lets the doctor see their insides better.

After a few minutes, your child may begin to feel very full, like they really have to have a bowel movement. Once all the pictures have been taken, your child can use the washroom.

What happens after the exam?

Your child can go home after the test and carry on with his or her day as usual.

Try to have your child drink extra fluids for the first few days after the exam to help clear the contrast from their body.

The test results will be sent to the doctor who ordered the exam in about 1 week.

For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information, call Health Link at 811.

Current as of: September 25, 2020

Author: Diagnostic Imaging, Alberta Health Services