Why Does My Child Need A Water Soluble Enema?

water soluble enema room

Whether it’s a healthy dinner or an enjoyable snack, the food your child eats is essential to their wellbeing. In order for their body to properly use and dispose of that food, their colon needs to be healthy and work effectively.

Some illnesses and abnormalities in the colon can cause pain, constipation, or blood in their stool — all signs that there may be something wrong in their colon, which is part of the digestive system. In order to diagnose and treat this, your child’s physician may do a test called a water soluble enema, which is an X-ray that takes pictures of their colon.

This test, while it may be uncomfortable for a short amount of time, will provide your child’s physician with important information that may help them avoid more invasive procedures or surgeries.

Make An Appointment

Ask A Radiology Child Life Specialist

Phone 402-955-4042 

Make An Appointment

Phone 402-955-6799

What Happens During A Water Soluble Enema?

It can be helpful and ease your child’s anxiety if they know what is going to happen during their procedure. The following steps will occur during your child’s water soluble enema:

  1. A child life specialist will meet with you and your child to help explain the procedure so they can understand it, show you pictures of the room the procedure will occur in, and help your child develop a positive coping plan.
  2. A radiology tech will be in the room (called a fluoro room) during the test. Two adults will be allowed to accompany your child to the exam room for preparation. However, only one caregiver may remain with your child during the X-ray, while the other caregiver steps behind the lead glass window. If you’re pregnant, you will be unable to stay in the room during the X-ray, but you are welcome to remain with your child during the tube placement. If you’re planning on bringing other children with you, one adult will need to stay in the waiting area with them.
  3. Once your child is in the fluoro room, they will need to change out of all of their clothes and into a hospital gown. After they have changed, you can help your child up onto the table to lie down, where they will lie on their side.
  4. The radiology tech will place the tube into your child’s anus. Your child may feel pressure and an uncomfortable feeling when the tube is being placed. Deep breathing can help reduce this sensation. It may also be helpful to distract your child with an iPad, songs, or books.
  5. The tech will use tape to keep the tube in the correct spot for pictures.
  6. The tube is used to fill the rectum and colon with contrast, which is a liquid that enables your child’s physician to see the structure of the digestive system on the X-ray images.
  7. While your child’s colon is filling with contrast, the radiologist will take pictures of your child on their back, stomach, and both sides using a special X-ray called a fluoroscope camera. Your child will feel full when the contrast enters their colon. When their colon is full of contrast, the tech will take off the tape using lotion and take out the tube.
  8. Your child will need to empty his or her colon in their diaper or by using the restroom. The tech will take another picture after your child has emptied their colon.

How Can I Prepare And Support My Child With Their Water Soluble Enema?

It’s completely normal if your child feels anxious before or during their water soluble enema. However, there are ways to make them feel more comfortable during their procedure, including:

  • Using developmentally appropriate words to explain to your child what will happen, such as telling them that there will be a small tube that will go in their bottom, but they should take big, deep breaths to help the tube go in
  • Reminding them that this procedure will help them feel better from their pain or discomfort
  • Bringing a comforting item, such as a blanket or stuffed animal for your child to have with them during their scan
  • Providing support by holding their hand, validating their feelings, and engaging your child in a distraction such as looking at a book, playing a game, playing with toys, or watching videos on an iPad
  • Participating in One Voice, an initiative to promote a calming environment by limiting the number of voices in the room so your child knows who to focus on, such as a caregiver or procedural staff professional
  • Practicing deep breathing at home by pretending to blow out birthday candles or blowing bubbles
  • Displaying a calm demeanor — your child picks up on your anxiety and often mirrors it
  • Meet with one of our child life specialists — experts who can explain the procedure in child-friendly terms, and help you and your child understand what will happen at every stage of the enema

Do you have more questions related to your child’s water soluble enema? Contact the Radiology Child Life Specialist at 402-955-4042 or the Radiology Department at 402-955-5602.

What To Do Next

For Patients

Your child will need an order from a provider to schedule a radiology procedure. Once the order is placed, call 402-955-6799 to schedule the procedure.

For Referring Providers

The Physicians’ Priority Line is your 24-hour link to pediatric specialists at Children’s for referrals, emergency and urgent consults, physician-to-physician consults, admissions, and transport services. Call 855-850-KIDS (5437).

Learn more about referring patients.


Search the Children's Nebraska Website

Looking for a provider?