Your Water Soluble Enema

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What is an enema?
An enema is a special X-ray study of the large bowel which would not normally show up on an ordinary X-ray. Contrast medium is used 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 approx. 1 year. There is also a very tiny risk of making a perforation in the bowel, a small hole. This happens very, very rarely indeed, and generally only if there is problem such as severe inflammation of the bowel wall. All risks are relative and as your doctor feels he/she 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?
There is no preparation. 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 30 minutes 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, bring your appointment 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 enema investigation?
You will be taken into the special X-ray room and asked to take off your dressing gown if you have brought one, you will still wear the hospital gown. You will be asked to lie down on the X-ray table, on your left side at first. The Radiologist or Radiographer will insert the soft plastic tube into your rectum (back passage), and the contrast then flows through the tube and around your bowel. The Radiologist or Radiographer watches the flow on the TV monitor and may move you into different positions. A small quantity of air may be introduced through the same tube, and this both expands the bowel further, and increases the contrast to make the detail more clear. At this point, several X-rays will be taken with you in different positions.

Will it be uncomfortable?
This examination should not hurt, although occasionally a patient may feel a cramplike pain which may persist for a while afterwards. However, during the examination you might feel the slight discomfort associated with the bowel becoming full.

How long will it take?
Unless you are delayed, e.g. by waiting for emergency patients, your total time in the Department should be about 30mins.

Are there any after-effects?
It may be best to have someone drive you. Some people are happy to go on to work afterwards, but most prefer to have several hours at home to recover, before resuming normal activities.

If you have a query about having the Enema, 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 and a map show the lay out of the hospital and parking. – This is the web site 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.