A barium x-ray examination is a medical procedure that allows your healthcare provider to examine your gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) using liquid barium and x-rays. Before the exam, barium is used to coat the lining of the GI tract. Because x-rays cannot pass through the barium, the organs, and any signs of disease in them, show up more clearly on the x-rays.
One type of barium x-ray examination is called a barium enema. A barium enema is done to assess your lower GI tract, specifically the lining of your rectum and colon. A barium enema can be used to diagnose problems in the large intestine, colon, and rectum, such as abnormal growths, polyps, ulcers, and colon cancer (see Barium Enema for more information about this type of medical procedure).
Your colon must be empty for a barium enema to be accurate. This is because any material in the colon may conceal the image. Preparation for a barium enema normally involves dietary restrictions, such as maintaining a liquid-only diet the day before the procedure. In addition, laxatives such as colyte are often used to cleanse the bowel beforehand.
colyte is an osmotic laxative. It works by drawing large amounts of water into the colon, which soften the stool and stimulate bowel movements. The resulting watery bowel movements flush out the intestines. In addition to polyethylene glycol, colyte contains electrolytes (i.e., potassium and sodium) to replace the electrolytes lost from the body in the watery stool.
colyte is not approved for use in children, as it has not been adequately studied in this group. Other similar polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution products are approved for colonoscopy preparation in children. However, it should be noted that colyte is sometimes used off-label in children.