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Definition | Reasons for Procedure | Possible Complications | What to Expect | Call Your Doctor


Enteroclysis is a visual exam of the small intestine. The exam is done using technique called fluoroscopy. This involves using an x-ray unit with a camera and a screen.

The Intestines

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Reasons for Procedure

Enteroclysis is used to examine and diagnose conditions that affect the small intestine, such as:

  • Obstruction in the small intestine
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (such as, Crohn’s disease)
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Malabsorption
  • Polyps
  • Tumors
  • Changes that have happened due to surgery (such as, scar tissue)

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare. However, all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Allergic reaction to the contrast dye-a chemical used to make images clearer
  • Injury to the small intestines
  • Bleeding

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Smoking
  • Treatment with certain medicines (such as, aspirin or other blood-thinning drugs)

Talk to your doctor about these risks before the procedure.

What to Expect

Your doctor will:

  • Do a physical exam
  • Ask about your medical history, symptoms, and any medicines that you take
  • Your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medicine before the test.

To prepare for the procedure, your doctor may ask you to:

  • Follow a clear-liquid diet (such as, water, tea, clear broth) the day before the enteroclysis.
  • Take a laxative the night before.
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything after midnight.
  • Give yourself an enema to clear stool from the intestines.
    • Note: Be sure to tell your doctor if you are constipated. It’s important that your intestines are clear of stool.

On the day of the procedure:

  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Arrange for a ride home.

Your doctor may give you a sedative to reduce your discomfort.

You will be asked to lie down on an x-ray table. A numbing medicine will be sprayed on the back of your throat. A thin, flexible tube will then be placed into your mouth. The tube will be gently passed down your throat. The tip of the tube will pass through your stomach to your small intestines.

A special dye will be sent through the tube. You may be asked to move your body. This will help coat the walls of your intestine with the dye. The images of your intestine will then be taken.

A tube may also be placed in your rectum. The tube will allow some of the contrast dye to come out of your body. This step can reduce bloating in your abdomen.

After your doctor has taken all of the images, the tubes will be removed.

About 60 minutes

You will have discomfort when the tube is inserted. You may also have some bloating and discomfort due to the contrast dye.

Right after the procedure, the staff will bring you to the restroom. You will remain at the care center for about 30 minutes. Then you will be able to go home. If you were given a sedative, have someone drive you home.

It is common to have abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence (gas), and diarrhea. This should go away in 1-2 days.

When you return home:

  • Resume your normal diet.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. This will help to flush the contrast dye out of your body.
  • Resume medicines as instructed by your doctor.
  • If you were given a sedative, avoid driving, operating machinery, or making important decisions for the rest of the day.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if any of these occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Inability to pass gas or stool

If you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases



Public Health Agency of Canada


Radiology for Patients



Adult small bowel via enteroclysis tube. OSF Saint Francis Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.osfsaintfrancis.org/services/OutpatientServices/DiagnosticServices/Diagnostic-Services-PDFs/diagnostic-radiology/Small-Bowel-Via-Enteroclysis-Tube.pdf. Accessed August 30, 2012.

CT enteroclysis scan. St. Luke’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.stlukescr.org/filesimages/Services/Imaging%20Services/CT/CT%20Enteroclysis%20Scan.pdf. Accessed August 30, 2012.

Enteroclysis. Lahey Clinic website. Available at: https://www.lahey.org/Departments_and_Locations/Departments/Radiology/Fluoroscopy/Enteroclysis.aspx. Accessed August 30, 2012.

Enteroclysis. United Hospital Center website. Available at: http://www.uhcwv.org/diagnostic-detail.php?dia_id=14. Accessed August 30, 2012.

Enteroclysis (small bowel enema). Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website. Available at: http://www2.mskcc.org/patient_education/_assets/downloads-english/456.pdf. Accessed August 30, 2012.

Last reviewed September 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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