November 1990

Inadequate Barium Enemas in Elderly Patients

Arch Intern Med. 1990;150(11):2415. doi:10.1001/archinte.1990.00390220140038

To the Editor. —I read with interest the article "Inadequate Barium Enemas in Hospitalized Elderly Patients," in the September 1989 issue of the Archives. It brought to mind an experience that I had had in approximately 1957 when I had consulted with another physician regarding a patient who had gastrointestinal symptoms and for whom a barium enema was scheduled. It became a marathon event, with radiology sending him back to the nursing station with a note to postpone the study, and to give more laxatives and enemas to try to "get the trash out of the colon." This probably occurred for at least four nights in succession and the patient was stating that he was more ill from the attempted diagnostic studies than his original complaints. Since it was a personal experience that I would find the cause of one third of the illnesses or symptoms that a patient was

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