|With Health Insurance: $50-$150 Copay||Without Health Insurance: $200-$2,000|
A barium enema, or a gastrointestinal exam, is an X-ray of the large intestine. The test helps diagnose diseases and problems that affect the large intestine, colon and rectum. For a lower GI barium enema, a patient's colon is filled with barium, which blocks X-rays and makes the colon show up clearly on the X-ray image. (To examine the upper GI, a patient generally swallows a barium solution and a doctor monitors the passage through the esophagus, stomach and small intestine, a procedure that takes about three hours. The procedure is typically called a barium swallow.)
What should be included:
- Barium enemas are subject to a variety of fees including a physician's fee, an anesthesia fee and an analysis fee. Anesthesia is not used in all barium enema procedures.
- Patients with health insurance coverage will typically pay $50-$150 in copays for barium enema procedures. For example, members of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Massachusetts pay $70-$120 for abdominal X-rays, which include both the actual procedure and an analysis of the data collected.
- Uninsured patients can expect to pay $200-$2,000 total for a barium enema. According to NewChoiceHealth.com , the average cost of a gastrointestinal tract X-ray is $400 but can cost as much as $2,000. For example, Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center , in Lincoln, NE, charges $647-$978 for barium enema procedures.
- There are two types of barium enemas -- single contrast and double contrast. The procedures are usually completed in 30-60 minutes.
- During a lower GI barium enema procedure, a patient typically lies on his or her side while the colon is filled with a material containing barium. The doctor will watch the flow of barium through the colon on an X-ray monitor. The doctor may press on the patient's abdomen to move the barium through the intestines. If the patient is having a double contrast barium enema, the barium will be drained out and the colon is filled with air. The patient will then be given a bedpan or sent to a restroom to evacuate remaining barium. A few post-evacuation X-rays will then be taken.
- WebMD provides step-by-step information on the process of receiving a barium enema. The site also includes information on how to prepare for the test.
Shopping for a barium enema:
- Barium enemas might be covered by a patient's medical insurance. It's a good idea to verify coverage specifics with an insurance provider prior to the procedure.
- Medicare covers the cost of barium enemas for patients who are at risk of developing colorectal cancer. Medicare provides state-by-state information on barium enema coverage.
- RadiologyInfo.org explains what patients can expect before, during and after the procedure. The site also outlines risks and benefits of exposure to radiation.
- The American College of Gastroenterology has an online physician finder .
- HealthGrades.com, an online independent health ratings organization, offers a searchable directory of gastroenterologists .
- The American Society of Radiologic Technologists allows patients to verify a technician's registration status .
- Colon Health Magazine is a useful resource for a broad range of information relating to colon health.
| Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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