The dreaded Barium…………..
When I first started with ulcerative colitis I had to have many tests, and I remember having both of these. I had these as an inpatient but you may get a referral to go in for the test. This can be for all reasons from the throat down to the large bowel.
Let’s start with Barium meal. ( swallow, meal, follow through) It isn’t quite a meal but a thick revolting drink that you need to take and as the liquid travels through your digestive tract, intermittent pictures / x rays are taken to see if there are any strictures or abnormalities. I think I had to drink three drinks, two were just like paint and if you were feeling unwell to start with, you definitely would after taking them. The other one was a slightly different taste, and I think it was a mixture that would produce gas so that the bowel etc can be seen clearly, this was all about twenty years ago so it may be different now. It seemed to take a while because they didn’t take pictures for at least 20 mins to allow the mixture to travel down. When it comes out the other end it lays on the bottom of the toilet as it is that dense, it takes ages to go. You can’t eat for about six hours before this procedure. You may be asked to move into different positions to get the best images.
You may also need a muscle relaxant which is an injection into an already inserted cannula.
Barium enema next, ( lower GI exam ) good fun not. You have to have bowel prep for this one as it is for the large bowel only. You are then strapped to a bed and they insert a tube into your bottom ( I think they taped it your buttocks to stop you pushing it out). They then filled your large bowel with the Barium liquid, then the fun part. They give you an injection to relax your bowels then you are tipped all different ways on the bed to get the liquid all over. Very strange feeling not to mention the absolute urge to poo. I remember that being the worst bit, not being able to expel the tube and the stuff. You could feel the Barium going in too, anyone who has had to use the enemas for IBD will know how this feels and how difficult it is to keep in anything that is squirted up there.
When the solution has covered the inside of the colon, most of it is drained out, air is pumped in and x rays are taken. When they have finished, the tube is removed and you think you will poo that stuff all over as soon as you stand up. You don’t of course, and a short while after, you will probably go to the toilet and like the Barium meal, the horrible Barium stuff will linger in the bottom of the toilet for ages. Oh yes, and your poo might be white too.