Barium Enema for 2 Year Old

Updated on July 14, 2008
K.F. asks from Star, ID
9 answers

I have a 2 1/2 year old who has battled chronic constipation since he was 4 months old. We have tried all sorts of treatments to keep him going poop with some success. Since he is still having problems, the Dr. wants to try a barium enema which will show us if there is anything wrong with the actual anatomy of his large intestine. I am familiar enough with the procedure to know that it is really uncomfortable and I'm not sure how to keep my son calm and relaxed so that they can get good pictures. Has anyone had this done for their child? What did you do to help them stay somewhat comfortable?

Thanks in advanced for your info!

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So What Happened?

Thanks to those whow responded to my request or sent private messages. I really appreciate all the input. We did go ahead with the barium enema last Thursday and it was not at all as bad as I thought it would be. My son of course cried while it was happening but he held really still and was comforted by both me and my husband. As soon as the enema was out, he was good as new! I was relieved.

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answers from Denver on

I don't know about enemas, but my son has been constapated his whole life. It was horrible to see him pass a stool when he was a baby...he's now 7. We tried all sorts of things. We had good luck with Mirlalax when he was a toddler. I've now switched to fiber tablets. They come in favors and he has one every night. He doesn't mind and even reminds me when I forget

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answers from Denver on

Hi K.,

I don't know much about the barium enema, but if you feel that might help to find out if there is something wrong, then go for it. I am writing to share with you that all 3 of our children have had to deal with some constipation problems especially around potty training age. My husband is a school psychologist and went to a summer class on kids and nutrition a few summers ago. In this class he learned that giving kids acidopholis helps keep good bacteria in their system and helps regulate their digestion and elimination. This professor also noted that kids with tummy/digestive issues can have issues with behavior. We started our 2 older children on acidopholis daily and it has helped them immensely. They make chewable ones as well as capsules. We use the capsules. My 6 year old can now swallow hers. My 5 and 3 year old boys just chew the capsule with some food. We started my just 3 year old on this about 6-8 months ago. We just potty trained him in June and had very few issues with constipation during this time. Even if you do the enema, you may look into the acidopholis as a daily supplement for your little one. You can get it at Whole Foods, Sunflower Market, and probably Vitamin Cottage, too. Hope this helps! C. M.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Hello, I work at Primary Children's as an x-ray tech. I perform barium enemas on children every day, and will be glad to explain the process. First off, depending on where you are going for the exam (i personally suggest a children's hospital) there are child life specialists available to help "prep" your son. They are great and explain the exam to him on his level. They often let the kids get involved and play with "doctor" stuff for a few minutes. Once your child feels prepared, the tech will come in and start. The actual tube we use is quite small (he poops bigger than it). It only goes in about 1 inch, and then we use some tape across his bum to hold it in. The Radiologist comes in and starts taking pictures while the barium flows in through the tube. This part is not painful. Most kids say it just feels like they have to poop. The actual test goes quite fast, and the doctors take a number of pictures. You are able to stay in the room the whole time, and the tech and child life specialist are there to help your son feel comfortable and less scared. If he is out of control, some mild restraints (ace wraps) may be wrapped around his legs to keep him from kicking. After the pictures, he can use the bathroom if he is potty trained, otherwise the barium will drain back out into the bag it started in. To be honest, it is one of the fastest exams we do, and sounds way worse than it is. I really suggest getting it, because there are some conditions that can be found that may be contributing to his contstipation, especially something called Hirshprung's. Anyway, I hope this helps. Feel free to call the hospital you schedule at and talk to the techs there, who are always available to answer questions. Good luck!

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answers from Pocatello on

Hey there. I want to suggest something that you probably have NEVER heard of. I know i hadn't. My son is 3 and has dealt with constipation. I had taken him to a pediatric G.I. and had him on ex-lax and miralax continually.(when we first took him in, he had 5 feet of compacted bowel in his colon!) They said his body will tell us when he's ready to get off that stuff. but i couldn't go ONE day without giving him that stuff or he was hurting and constipated again. About 2 months ago, i saw a newspaper add for a chiropractor, who's daughter had had the same problem when she was little. he wasn't a chiro. at the time and had someone suggest to him to take her to one. so he did and within 3 weeks of treatment(just straightening out the spine) she was off the medicine. he was so impressed, that he then became a chiropractor. well, needless to say, i started treating my son with him, and he is now off of the miralax. I am extremely impressed!!! He is better only because of the chiropractor and i know it. It might be kind of expensive,(my son was seeing him twice a week for a while, but now only every 3 weeks since he's doing so good) but it is worth every penny to me. now my son is feeling better and i don't have to realy on medication. Hope this helps and that he can get better quickly! You can write me back if you have any other questions.

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answers from Provo on

Has your doctor done an ultrasound? It may not give the same information, but a lot of things will show up, and it seems a pity to jump straight to the more invasive procedure if there is a chance you could learn what you need to that way.

Having said that, my sister had a barium x-ray at the age of 2- not an enema, but she had to fast - so my dad fasted with her. He said it was the hardest fast of his life, but she didn't seem to mind at all - I don't know if that helps for you, but good luck, and all the best.
N. Wilson

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answers from Casper on

There are so many good suggestions here, and how wonderful that someone from Primary Children's that does that procedure even posted! I would go ahead with it based on her advice. I would try the chiropractor in conjunction, and the acidophillus. There is a lot of research coming out lately on digestive disorders, particularly with bacteria. Based on what I have read, I would also be using yogurt with inulin and live cultures. There are a lot of good probiotic yogurts out there, so see what you can find. If this is not a physical condition, a really healthy diet could help make a difference. Good luck.

See my response under "Looking for Healthy Foods to gain proper intake to breastfeed baby " as well.



answers from Denver on

Oh honey---please contact me!!! Went through something similar with my 4 yr old son and treated him naturally--have 4 month old on lap so can't go into detail here, but there's a good chance it is food allergies and I have a fantastic doc who can treat him naturally and get him pooping like a pro without the enema....if you're interested contact me personally and we can talk via phone or email.
J. :-)



answers from Denver on

My 6 year old has had the same problems. He is still on Miralax daily to keep the problem in check. I've moved around a lot and have never had a doctor want to do that type of test on such a young one. From what my doctors have all said, it is pretty common in children. It's not an easy thing to deal with. We've have these issues with him since birth. I myself am not a fan of medicating conventionally but after trying everything else with little luck have found this to be the best means to keep him regular. My son was a great eater but did have an allergy to dairy products. After trying every other means through diet and supplements we finally gave in to using the Miralax. He has been on it since he was around 2 and 1/2. I don't know what causes such severe consipation in certain children but it seems to be a lot more common than you might realize. Anyway, just thought you might want a second opinion before going that route. Just seemed a bit drastic considering it is such a common problem. Good luck. I know how hard it is to deal with.



answers from Pueblo on

Dear K.,

My son had to have a barium enema when he was three. The only problem that he had was when they tried to get him to drink the casteroil stuff. We ended up getting some type of product for kids to get him ready for his procedure. While he had his procedure he sang songs....." Strawberry Shortcake la la la. It was worse for me and my husband than him. My son just watched the screen while they did the enema. He loved looking at it.

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