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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Medical Specialties & Departments > Barium Enema

Barium Enema Cost

How Much Does a Barium Enema Cost?

average costWith Health Insurance: $50-$150 Copayhigh costWithout Health Insurance: $200-$2,000
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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.)

Typical costs:

  • 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[1] 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[2] , 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[3] , in Lincoln, NE, charges $647-$978 for barium enema procedures.
Related articles: Colonoscopy, X-Ray, Health Insurance

What should be included:
  • 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[4] on the process of receiving a barium enema. The site also includes information on how to prepare for the test.
  • 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[5] on barium enema coverage.
Shopping for a barium enema:
  • explains what patients can expect[6] before, during and after the procedure. The site also outlines risks and benefits[7] of exposure to radiation.
  • The American College of Gastroenterology has an online physician finder[8] .
  •, an online independent health ratings organization, offers a searchable directory of gastroenterologists[9] .
  • The American Society of Radiologic Technologists allows patients to verify a technician's registration status[10] .
  • Colon Health Magazine[11] 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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