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At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test, and we invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the test and how you can help.
A barium enema (BARE-ee-um EN-ee-ma), or BE, is a test that shows the structure of the large intestine and colon. The colon is located below the stomach at end of the large intestine. Digested food passes through the colon on the way out of the body through the rectum.
Your child may be asked to do a “bowel prep” the day before this test. If a bowel prep is necessary, you will be instructed to do so by your doctor. Please carefully follow all directions for the bowel prep. If you have any questions about it, please ask your doctor.
A barium enema is done at the Department of Pediatric Radiology of Children’s Hospital. In the exam room will be a pediatric radiology doctor, who will be taking the X-ray pictures of your child’s large intestine and colon, and an X-ray technologist, who will be helping the doctor. You will see an X-ray machine, a long table and a television screen. You might explain to your child that the X-ray machine is a large camera for taking pictures that will be shown on the screen. If your child has any questions, the doctor or X-ray technologist will be happy to answer them before the test.
Your child will be asked to change into a hospital gown. When your child is ready, the test will begin.
As a parent, you may have concerns about radiation exposure. Children’s Hospital takes every precaution to make sure your child is safe.
We welcome your help and support during this test. One parent or guardian is invited to join their child in the X-ray room. Other adults and children must wait in the waiting room.
A barium enema takes about 30 to 45 minutes. The test is finished when the X-ray technologist and doctor have taken all of the pictures they need and determined that enough of the barium has been emptied from your child's large intestine and colon.
If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the doctor needs to know about, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s before the test and ask to speak with a nurse. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs.
Preparing your child beforehand, as well as comforting your child during the test, will help your child have a more positive experience. Sometimes it is difficult to know how to explain tests to children. If you have any questions about ways to prepare or support your child, or feel your child will have difficulty during the test, please call the Department of Pediatric Radiology at Children’s and ask to speak with the child life specialist.
Department of Pediatric Radiology
UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Drive
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Visit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation's website to make a donation online.