Barium enema

This is an exam of the digestive tract that provides images of the large intestine (colon).

A barium enema can sometimes cause discomfort and a feeling of bloating, but remains a safe procedure without side effects!
In general, this type of exam is prescribed for colon cancer screening or for people with blood in the stool, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, etc.

Exam offered

Make an appointment

+Make an appointment

Make an appointment by calling the following Radiologie PB clinic:
- The Longueuil clinic located on Chambly Road: (450) 646-3520

+Duration of the exam

- Length of the exam: About 30 minutes
- Total length of the visit: 1 hour
We suggest you allow half a day for your exam because you will have to use the bathroom frequently.

+Cost of the exam

The cost of this exam is covered by the RAMQ (free of charge).


You must register at the front desk upon arrival at the clinic.

Make sure to bring the following with you:
- Your health insurance card (RAMQ)
- A valid prescription signed by your doctor

To avoid any delays, we recommend you arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.


- A few days before the exam: Purchase the Pico-Salax product (a powdered laxative) over the counter at your local pharmacy (no prescription required). This product will be used to empty your bowels the day before your exam. Make sure you have access to a toilet on the day preceding your exam because you will need to use it frequently.
- Two days before the exam: Eat foods containing no fiber or residue. Avoid fruits and vegetables, solid meats, brown bread, nuts, milk, and cream. Click here for a list of foods containing no fiber.
- The day before the exam: Have a light breakfast early in the morning (toasted white bread, jam or butter, clear liquids). Thereafter, you must follow a liquid diet (Gatorade, Jell-O, 7up, popsicles, juices without pulp, soups, coffee, or tea without milk).
Around 8 a.m., mix 1 packet of Pico-Salax in 150 ml (5 oz) of water and drink it. Throughout the day, drink 250 ml (8 oz) of water or clear liquid every hour.
- Around 16H , mix a second packet of Pico-Salax in 150 ml (5 oz) of water. Keep drinking only clear liquids until bedtime.- The day of the exam: If your appointment is in the morning, you can have clear liquids when you rise and then stop drinking until the exam.
- If your appointment is in the afternoon, you can drink until 10 a.m. You can also eat a light meal (toasted white bread, jam, and beverage) one hour before your exam (only).

If you are taking medication, you can take it as usual with a little water. If you have diabetes, click here.

+The exam

A few minutes after registering, a member of our team will escort you to the changing room where you will put on an exam gown.

You will then be led to the exam room where we will ask you to lie on a movable table. The technologist will inject a drug to reduce abdominal cramps. A white liquid (barium) with some air will be administered in the intestine through a small plastic tube inserted into the anus. It is normal to feel bloated. The technologist will monitor the progress of the liquid in the colon and take a series of images in various positions.

It is important to carefully follow the instructions in order to carry out the exam correctly and to ensure quality images.

After the exam, you may resume your regular activities. We recommend drinking plenty of water as barium can cause constipation. In the days following the exam, it is normal to find barium residue (white matter) in the stool.


The X-rays are reviewed by the radiologist after your departure. The final report is sent to your doctor within 24-48 hours.

+Remember to...

- Arrive 15 minutes before your appointment
- Notify the technologist if you are pregnant or think you might be
- Bring your health insurance card (RAMQ)
- Bring a valid prescription signed by a physician
- Drink plenty of water following the exam to avoid constipation