[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
June 28, 1976

The Barium Enema: Is It Obsolete?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Radiology (Dr Miller) and the Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology (Dr Lehman), Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis.

JAMA. 1976;235(26):2842-2844. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260520036020

PROCTOSIGMOIDOSCOPY (PSS) and the barium enema (BE) have historically been extremely valuable diagnostic tools in the study of colon disease. Since the BE provided an examination far beyond the capability of PSS, and PSS could be used to directly examine the more difficult areas for radiologic evaluation (rectum and rectosigmoid), the two techniques were obviously complementary. The recent advent of colonoscopy (CS) (examination of the entire colon by fiberoptic techniques) is basically an extension of PSS. Does the currently available technique of direct CS visualization of the entire colon now make BE obsolete?

Current evidence supports the contention that CS and the BE are also complementary. Each technique has its distinct advantages and disadvantages. The clinician must be fully aware of the relative merits of each method so as to utilize these tools most effectively.

Just as it is true for the BE and all other diagnostic modalities, including the