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How is a barium enema used to treat a child's gastrointestinal tract birth defects?

5 doctor answers24 doctors weighed in
Dr. Anatoly Belilovsky
Pediatrics 35 years experience
It's not.: It is used to diagnose GI tract birth defects; it is used to treat an acquired condition called intususception, in which small bowel "telescopes" and becomes jammed in large bowel. Barium under pressure pushes it back out while at the same time showing "before" and "after" pictures -- confirming both diagnosis and cure.
Dr. Sue Hall
Dr. Sue Hallanswered
Pediatrics 38 years experience
It doesn't treat.: A barium enema can be used to diagnose, but not to treat, congenital malformations of a baby's gastrointestinal tract. A different type of xray enema, called gastrograffin, may be used as treatment. It helps relieve intestinal obstruction when the meconium (baby's first green tar-like stool) is abnormally sticky and is causing a blockage, by helping to clear the meconium out of the intestine.
Dr. Robert Kwok
Pediatrics 33 years experience
Is an X-ray study: A barium enema is an x-ray study. The barium goes up pass the anus, into the intestines, and fills the inside of the intestines. X-rays are taken, to see the shape of the intestines, which with barium will show up as white (on an otherwise blacker background) on the x-rays.
Dr. Janet Meller
Pediatric Surgery 41 years experience
Usually not: Usually contrast enema is a diagnostic tool. Occasionally it can be used as a treatment.
Dr. Bruce J. Stringer
Radiology 47 years experience
Rarely: Babies with cystic fibrosis may have a bowel obstruction caused by thick stool referred to a meconium ileus. Some of these babies can benefit from a contrast (not barium) enema to help flush out the thick stool (meconium). Others will require surgical intervention.

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Last updated Dec 26, 2014

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