Diagnostic Imaging: Small Bowel Examinations

What is a small bowel follow-through?
A small bowel follow-through/small bowel meal is an x-ray examination of the small bowel. It is done to find ulcers, growths, narrowed areas or other pathologies. This examination will be done separately from an upper G.I. exam.

What is a small bowel enteroclysis?
A small bowel enteroclysis is an alternate examination of the small bowel. Instead of drinking the barium it is instilled through a nasogastric tube put into the nose.

How do I prepare for a small bowel examination?
Be prepared to stay in the department for up to 3 hours. This is an average amount of time. It may be less, it may be more. You may wish to:

  • Bring a friend for company.
  • Bring something to read.
  • Make appropriate parking/babysitting plans.

It is very important that the bowels are cleansed for this examination. Please follow the instructions on the instruction sheet.

Small Bowel Examination Preparation Instructions
What happens during a small bowel follow-through?
You will be asked to drink several glasses of barium liquid which will show up on X-ray. The images will be taken at timed intervals and checked for the distance the barium has traveled.  Once the barium has reached the area where the small bowel joins the large bowel, specific images are taken under fluoroscopy (using real time x-rays viewed on an image monitor).  Gentle pressure will be used to maximize visualization of all parts of your small bowel.  Sometimes a tube will be put into the rectum and air insufflated (called a pneumocolon), while more images are taken. The test may take 2-4 hours from start to finish.

What happens during a small bowel enteroclysis?
A small bowel enteroclysis is an examination of the small bowel  Liquid barium is instilled via a tube inserted into a nostril, advanced through the stomach to the duodenum. It is done to find ulcers, growths, narrowed areas or other pathologies.  Intermittent fluoroscopy or “live imaging” is used to follow the transit of the barium as well as still imaging. The test takes approximately 1-2 hours.

What happens after a small bowel examination?
You will be given instructions to drink lots of fluids after the test.  You may go back to your normal diet unless you are told differently by your doctor. The barium will temporarily change the colour of your stool. Drink lots of fluids until the barium passes.

How do I find out the results?
The radiologist will send a report to the doctor who sent you for the test. Your doctor will give you the results.

Last updated: Thu, 2013-04-18 10:09