Skip Navigation


Radiology Exam: Enteroclysis

Enteroclysis is an examination of the small bowel.  X-rays are used to take single pictures and a special form of x-ray called fluoroscopy is also used in this examination. The radiologist can see internal organs like the bowel in motion using fluoroscopy.

A liquid called a contrast agent is put into the small bowel through a tube passed through your nose and stomach into the beginning of the small bowel. The contrast agent most commonly used for this study is called barium. The radiologist will watch to see how the contrast moves through the small bowel.

Enteroclysis is similar to a double-contrast barium enema or a small bowel series, but is a more complex procedure. However, it is more sensitive at detecting certain abnormalities.

How do I prepare for an enteroclysis?

PRECAUTIONS: If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you should notify your doctor. If you are diabetic and insulin dependent, consult with your physician regarding the insulin the day before and the day of the exam. 

CLOTHING: You must completely change into a patient gown and lock up all personal belongings. A locker and patient gown will be provided for you. Please remove all piercings and leave all jewelry and valuables at home.

EAT/DRINK: Follow the directions below to ensure your small bowel is prepared for the examination: 

The day before the scheduled exam:

  • Lunch – Eat and drink normally
  • After lunch - Drink liquids only. For example, you can have bouillon, apple or grape juice, Jell-O, non-fat or skim milk, coffee or tea.
  • 1 p.m. – One 10 oz. bottle of magnesium citrate over ice. Magnesium citrate is available at any pharmacy without a prescription.
  • Dinner - Have only liquids for dinner. For example, you can have bouillon, apple or grape juice, Jell-O, non-fat or skim milk, coffee or tea.
  • After midnight - do not eat or drink anything

The day of the exam:

  • Do not eat or drink anything until the exam has been performed. 
  • Take essential medications drinking only a sip of water.

What happens during an enteroclysis exam?

An enteroclysis may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay at a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor's practices.

Generally, an enteroclysis will follow this process: 

  • You will be asked to remove any jewelry, eye glasses or other metal objects that may interfere with the procedure. 
  • You will be asked to remove your clothing and you will be given a gown to wear.
  • You will be asked to remove any removable dental work, such as appliances, bridges or retainers.
  • You will be positioned horizontally on the examination table.
  • A lubricated tube will be inserted through your mouth or nose and advanced into the small bowel.
  • The barium will flow through the tube into the intestine.
  • During the procedure, the machine and examination table will move and you may be asked to assume various positions as the X-rays are being taken.
  • The radiologist will take single pictures, a series of X-rays or a video (fluoroscopy) as the barium moves through the intestine.
  • Once all required X-rays are taken, the tube will be removed slowly and you will be assisted from the table.

What happens after an enteroclysis exam?

You may resume your normal diet and activities after the examination, unless your doctor advises you differently.

Barium may cause constipation. You may be advised to drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in fiber to expel the barium from the body. You may also be given a cathartic or laxative to help expel the barium.

Since barium isn't absorbed into the body but instead passes through your entire gastrointestinal tract, your bowel movements may be lighter in color until all the barium has been excreted.

If you do not have a bowel movement for more than two days after your exam or are unable to pass gas rectally, call your physician promptly. You may need an enema or laxative to assist in eliminating the barium.

Notify your health care provider to report any of the following:

  • Difficulty with bowel movements or inability to have a bowel movement
  • Pain and/or distention of the abdomen
  • Fever

Your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.

back to top button