Children's Hospital Colorado

Contrast Enema Test at Children’s Hospital Colorado

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A contrast enema test can uncover issues in a child’s large intestine. Doctors at Children’s Colorado may order this test if your child has abdominal pain, bowel movement changes, or ongoing constipation or diarrhea.

What is a pediatric contrast enema test?

A contrast enema test uses a special type of X-ray called fluoroscopy to create a moving image of the inside of the intestines. We send contrast fluid through a tube placed in the child’s rectum. The fluid helps to highlight blockages or other problems in your child’s intestine on the X-ray images.

Often the contrast fluid relieves constipation by helping your child have a bowel movement. This test also helps us diagnose any other issues in your child’s intestines that may be causing trouble.

How should I prepare my child for a pediatric contrast enema test?

  • Take time to talk with your child and explain the test.
  • Reassure your child that they’ll be safe and comfortable.
  • You may want to bring a comfort item like a stuffed animal, toy or blanket.

If you’re pregnant, you need to avoid X-rays, so please bring another adult to the hospital to support your child. Siblings and other children are not allowed in the exam room during the test, so please make arrangements for someone to stay with them.

What to expect during your child’s contrast enema test

Medical tests can feel intimidating, so it’s helpful to know what your family can expect. You’ll generally follow these steps for a contrast enema test:

Check in to the hospital

  • Please arrive 30 minutes before your child’s scheduled procedure.
  • Bring a list of your child’s medicines and insurance card.
  • We’ll give your child an identification bracelet to ensure they get the right test.
  • A nurse and child life specialist will talk with you and your child about the procedure and answer any questions.
  • You’ll sign a consent form.
  • If you’re staying with your child during the test, you’ll put on a lead apron to protect you from the X-rays.

Receive the contrast fluid

  • We’ll head to the fluoroscopy room, where your child will be given a gown to wear and will lie on the X-ray table.
  • We ask your child to lie on their side, straighten one leg and bend the other over it.
  • The doctor gently inserts a soft tube (catheter) into your child’s bottom and fills it with contrast fluid. During this part of the test, your child can watch a video or play on an iPad.
  • Your child rolls from side to side so the contrast gets distributed through their intestines. If your child feels uncomfortable stomach or abdominal pressure, we’ll guide him or her to breathe deeply or blow on a pinwheel.

Take the X-rays

  • Once the contrast fluid is administered, we quickly take X-rays, using small amounts of radiation for your child’s safety.

Release the contrast and take a final X-ray

  • The contrast fluid flows out of your child’s body into a container.
  • Your child rolls to the side and we gently slide the tube out.
  • Your child goes to the bathroom for a bowel movement (poop). This should feel easier after the contrast fluid.
  • We take one more X-ray to confirm your child’s large intestine is clear.
  • Your child gets dressed, and you can go home.
  • A radiologist reads the results and sends a report to your child’s doctor, who follows up with you on the next steps.

What to expect after a pediatric contrast enema test

  • After the test, your child may have more frequent bowel movements for a day or two but should otherwise feel fine.
  • Your child can return to regular activities unless their doctor recommends otherwise.

If you have any questions and/or concerns, call the ParentSmart Healthline toll free at 1-855-KID-INFO (543-4636). Caring pediatric nurses are available 24/7 to help answer your health questions.

Why choose us for pediatric contrast enema tests

Children’s Colorado is a comprehensive pediatric hospital, so our entire team is dedicated to kids’ unique needs. Our diagnostic approach focuses on keeping your child safe while we gather the information we need to give them the best care. We offer:

  • Expertise: Our highly skilled radiology doctors and technologists are experts at performing contrast enema tests. Your child also gets age-appropriate support from our child life specialists, who specialize in putting kids at ease.
  • Child-friendly tests: We use child-sized equipment and age-appropriate radiation dosages to provide a safer, more comfortable experience for your child.
  • Advanced technology: We use sophisticated X-ray machines to create precise, detailed images of your child’s intestine, so we can provide the most appropriate care.
  • Convenience: We offer radiology, imaging and testing at several of our locations throughout Colorado. You can filter by specialty service, city or zip code to find the test you need closest to home.

Learn more and schedule a pediatric contrast enema test

Please call the radiology scheduling line at 720-777-6541.

If you have any questions and/or concerns, call the ParentSmart Healthline toll free at 1-855-KID-INFO (543-4636). Caring pediatric nurses are available 24/7 to help answer your health questions.