Contrast enema

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What is a contrast enema?

A contrast enema examination is a series or X-rays taken to show your child’s large bowel, colon and rectum, by filling the bowel with contrast.

What is contrast?

Contrast is a water soluble substance used to help x-rays show a clear image of body structures.

A contrast enema is a test carried out in the Medical Imaging Department at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.  In this examination, contrast is administered into the rectum through the anus. A series or X-rays are then taken of your child’s large bowel.

What happens in a contrast enema examination?

The test is done in a room with an X-ray table and a large camera above it. 

The doctor or nurse will lie your child on their side while inserting a thin lubricated plastic tube called a catheter into the rectum. The tube is passed through the anus and will be kept in place with medical tape.  Your child will feel some discomfort when the catheter is inserted.

After the catheter is inserted, contrast will flow in to the bowel through the catheter and your child will feel full in their abdomen.  The contrast will flow through the large bowel and temporarily coat the inside lining of the colon and rectum.  As the bowel fills with contrast, loops of bowel will be seen, which helps to show the normal bowel contour, patency and position. 

When the contrast reaches where the large bowel and small bowel join, the test in then complete.

Your child can then go to the toilet.

Medical imaging booking and preparation

Staff will inform you of any preparation at time of booking. A reminder letter will be sent to you, two weeks prior to the appointment.

Screening/Fluoroscopy enquiries: (02) 9845 2928


The Children's Hospital at Westmead

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