When is air-contrast barium enema or Gastrografin study indicated in the workup of constipation?

Updated: Jul 05, 2019
  • Author: Marc D Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
  • Print
Answer

An air-contrast barium enema is useful for assessing the possibility of an obstructing colon cancer, intermittent volvulus, or colonic stricture in the setting of chronic constipation. A barium study is preferable to a Gastrografin study for patients who do not present with an acute process. On the other hand, a Gastrografin study is preferable for patients with an acute abdomen because it prevents the risk of extravasation of barium into the peritoneal cavity through a perforated diverticulum or colon cancer.

In patients with suspected colonic obstruction, the author prefers to use colonoscopy rather than barium enema, but either modality may suffice.


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!