* Screen for colon polyps or colon cancer.
Most medical experts recommend colon cancer screening beginning at age 50 for
people who do not have an increased risk of colon cancer. Earlier screening is
recommended for people who have an increased risk of colon cancer, such as those
with a family history of colon cancer.
* Identify inflammation of the intestinal wall that occurs in inflammatory bowel
diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. A barium enema also may
be used to monitor the progress of these diseases.
* Detect problems with the structure of the large intestine, such as narrowed
areas (strictures) or pockets or sacs (diverticula) in the intestinal wall.
* Help correct a condition called ileocolic intussusception, in which the end of
a child's small intestine protrudes into the large intestine.
* Evaluate abdominal symptoms such as altered bowel habits, anemia, or
unexplained weight loss.
This barium enema shows a
circumferential lesion with luminal narrowing and ulceration in the distal
descending colon suspicious for a carcinoma roughly 3-4 centimeters in length,
with associated inflammation in the adjacent bowel wall and multiple sigmoid
Lateral radiograph from air-contrast barium enema
examination in a 38-year-old woman with ulcerative colitis shows air and
contrast agent within the vagina
(V). The site of communication (arrow) is visible inferiorly. The
rectosigmoid region appears somewhat foreshortened and featureless.
Barium enema shows impacted stool (arrow) filling the sigmoid colon and
This barium enema image shows pouches (called
diverticula) in the wall of the colon.
Endometriosis of the sigmoid colon.
Acute viral gastroenteritis in a middle-aged
adult. Barium enema reveals generalized edema and irritability of the entire
colon with accentuation of the haustral markings.