Your Small Bowel Meal

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What is a Small Bowel Meal?
A small bowel meal is an examination of the small bowel which does not normally show up on X-ray. Barium is used as a contrast medium to line the bowel and cause it show up white on X-rays.

Are there any risks?
There are risks involved with all X-rays as radiation is used. In this procedure you will be subject to an amount of radiation comparable to that which we receive naturally from the environment over a period of 12 to 18 months. As your doctor feels he needs to investigate a potential problem, the risk from not having the examination could be greater. Ask the Radiographer if you have any concerns.

Am I required to make any special preparations?
Yes, please follow the instructions on your appointment letter. All women between the ages of 12-50 years will be asked to provide the date of their last menstrual period and the examination will only be carried out within a certain time frame. Except in exceptional circumstances this examination will not be carried out on women who are or might be pregnant.

Parking at the hospital
The hospital operates a pay on foot parking system. The current charges are £2.50 for the first hour, £3.50 up to three hours and £4.50 up to 6 hours. The first 30minutes are free. The hospital has plenty of car parking spaces but you may not be able to park close to the entrance. You are advised to allow plenty of time to find a space before your appointment.

Where do I book in?
Please go to the reception desk in main X-ray, you will find directions to the department in your appointment letter. Please bring your letter with you.

What happens next?
You will be shown to a cubicle where you can undress. You will be asked to put on a hospital gown. However, you may prefer to bring your own dressing gown.

What happens during the investigation?
You will be taken into an X-ray room where you will be asked to take off the dressing gown, if you have brought one, but you will keep the hospital gown on. You will be asked to drink some barium and cold water. This coats the small bowel making it visible on X-ray. X-ray images are then taken of the small bowel.

How long will it take?
The examination usually takes between 1 and 2 hours, however it may take longer if the barium and water are slow to move through your small bowel.

Are there any after-effects?
After having this large amount of fluid in the small bowel you will need to go to the toilet and may have diarrhoea.

If you have a query
If you have a query about having the small bowel meal, please ring the Radiology Department on 01908 995672, 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Web Links
For further information you may like to visit the following sites – For further information about Milton Keynes Hospital. – This is the website of the Royal College of Radiologists and click into the virtual hospital this will give you a lot of useful information about the work of a Radiology Department.
Please park in the Multi storey car park and follow the instructions on your appointment letter. Up to date maps and site plans can be found on the hospital website as above.