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- Also called a lower gastrointestinal (GI) examination, a barium enema is an X-ray examination of the large intestine (colon and rectum). The test is used to help diagnose diseases and other problems that affect the large intestine. To make the intestine visible on an X-ray picture, the colon is filled through a tube inserted into the rectum with with contrast material containing barium through a tube. The barium blocks X-rays, causing the barium-filled colon to show clearly on the X-ray picture.
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