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Fluoroscopy - Defacography

What is a Defacography?

A defacography is the fluoroscopic evaluation of the rectum and rectal motality after it has been filled with a contrast material called barium.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

A defacography is performed to view the motility of the rectum and to identify any structural abnormalities such as a rectocele.  Patients who undergo this procedure usually complain of chronic constipation.

How should I prepare for the procedure?

There is no special preparation for a defacography.  Food and fluid intake do not need to be restricted.

Before the procedure begins, you will be asked to change into a gown, so that no metal items will show up on the images.

Women should always inform their physician or technologist if there is any possibility that they may be pregnant.

What does the equipment look like?

You will be positioned on an exam table.  Above you will be a box-like structure containing the x-ray tube and fluoroscopic equipment that will send images to a screen in the exam room.

How does the procedure work?

The radiologist monitors the filling and evacuation of the barium in the rectum with a fluoroscope, a device that projects radiographic images in real time onto a screen in the exam room.

How is the procedure performed?

A technologist will position you lying on your right side on the exam table.  An enema tip will be inserted into the rectum, and your rectum will be filled with a barium paste, much like the consistency of stool.  Once the rectum is full, the enema tip will be removed, and you will be positioned sitting upright on a bedpan.  The radiologist will ask you to cough, to tighten and lift your rectal muscles and to strain and bare down.  Then, you will be asked to evacuate the barium into the bedpan.

The exam is usually completed within 10 minutes.

What will I experience during the procedure?

There is some discomfort associated with the insertion of an enema tip.  Also, you will experience a sensation similar to needing to have a bowel movement once the rectum is filled with barium.  Most patients feel somewhat embarrassed about having this procedure; however, all staff are very sensitive to this and very professional in all aspects of the exam.

Who will interpret the results and how do I get them?

A radiologist will interpret the images, and a signed report will be sent to your physician who will discuss the results with you.