Water Soluble Ileostomy Enema

This leaflet provides you with information about having a water soluble ileostomy enema. It explains what is involved and who you will meet.

What is an ileostomy enema?

This is an examination to look at the section of bowel leading to or from your stoma (opening onto the abdominal wall) using X-ray dye. The procedure is carried out by a specialist radiographer.

What preparation is required?

  • Please do not eat or drink from midnight prior to the examination.
  • If you are diabetic please ensure your blood sugars are maintained.
  • Please bring a spare stoma bag to replace the removed stoma bag.

On the day of the procedure

  • You will arrive at Gate 18 and a member of the Imaging team will take you through to the fluoroscopy waiting room.
  • A specialist radiographer will discuss the procedure with you. You will be given an opportunity to ask questions. If you are happy to proceed you will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
  • You will need to lie on the X-ray table where a small, soft plastic tube will be placed either into your back passage or your stoma, depending on the information your referring doctor requires.
  • A small amount of clear X-ray dye will then be introduced into the bowel.
  • During the procedure you may be asked to hold in as much fluid in your bowel as possible.
  • It is not uncommon for dye to leak during the procedure; please do not be concerned if this happens but let us know.
  • You may be asked to lie in various positions to enable the passage of dye to the area of interest.
  • At the end of the examination we will drain out as much of the X-ray dye as we are able to.
  • Despite best efforts some dye will remain in your bowel and over time will pass either into your stoma bag or into the back passage. This can take up to 12 hours.
  • Once all the dye has been emptied there are no after effects following this procedure.
  • The whole procedure will take approximately 45 minutes.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with this examination?

A water soluble ileostomy enema is a safe examination; however as with any examination there are small risks but these are extremely rare.

  • The soft tube is inserted into the rectum (back passage) or stoma could cause a slight tear. A small injury of this nature will often resolve itself.
  • There is also a very rare risk that your bowel could perforate (a small tear could be made in the wall of the bowel). This may require further examination or another procedure.
  • An allergic reaction to the X-ray dye is extremely rare.
  • As with all X-ray examinations, we will do our best to keep the exposure to radiation to the absolute minimum.

Will the examination be painful?

You may experience a little discomfort while the tube is inserted and when we fill your bowel with the X-ray dye. This is due to the stretching of the tissue after weeks of non-use. The specialist radiographer will take great care to minimise any discomfort for you.

Is there an alternative examination?

No, there is no alternative examination available.

What about after care?

  • After the examination you can eat and drink normally.
  • Some residual clear X-ray dye may pass into the stoma bag following the procedure.
  • You will notice the stoma bag filling quicker than expected.
  • You may also experience movement from your back passage as the X-ray dye passes through your bowel.

When will I get the results?

The specialist radiographer will review your examination at the earliest opportunity then make a written report. This will be sent to the doctor who requested the examination. Allow 7-10 days for the doctor to receive the report.

If you already have a clinic appointment you will receive the results then, otherwise you will receive a letter with a date for a clinic appointment.

Privacy and dignity

At North Bristol NHS Trust we are committed to providing the best possible experience for patients, ensuring the need for privacy and dignity in a safe, caring environment. We will treat every patient as an individual and respect their cultural values and beliefs.

Sometimes tests, although necessary, can be embarrassing or undignified for patients but we will endeavour to do everything we can to make you as comfortable as possible during your visit to the department. We hope that the information on this page will answer any questions you may have but please feel free to contact us if you have any particular worries, questions or concerns.

The telephone number for the Imaging department can be found on the appointment letter.


North Bristol Trust (2010) Privacy and Dignity policy

Royal Surrey County Hospital Foundation Trust (2016) Ileostomy and Colostomy Water Soluble Enema

BSAGR (2011) British Society of GI and Abdominal Radiology Loopogram Patient Information Leaflet

How to contact us

Brunel building
Southmead Hospital
BS10 5NB

Telephone: 0300 555 0103

If you or the individual you are caring for need support reading this information please ask a member of staff for advice.

If you’re an overseas visitor, you may need to pay for your treatment or you could face fraud or bribery charges, so please contact the overseas office:

Water Soluble Ileostomy Enema