Barium/water-soluble enema is an examination of your large bowel (colon) with the help of X-rays and of an X-ray dye called contrast. Normally, your bowel does not show well on X-ray on its own. The contrast can be seen on X-rays and is used to fill and coat the large bowel making it visible.
A ‘barium enema’ uses a barium water suspension as contrast and sometimes air may be inserted into your bowel to make X-ray images clearer. A ‘water-soluble enema’ uses an iodine-containing contrast instead and is preferred in patients who had previous bowel surgery or there is concern about bowel perforation.
The test is carried out by a radiologist (a doctor who uses x-ray to diagnose and treat conditions), and a radiographer (a health care professional that helps facilitate the x-ray images safely). Sometimes, an assistant or a student radiographer may also be present.