Lower GI Tract X-ray Benefits vs Risks

Lower GI Tract X-ray Benefits

  • X-ray imaging of the lower GI tract is a minimally invasive procedure with rare complications.
  • Radiology examinations such as the lower GI can often provide enough information to avoid more invasive procedures such as colonoscopy.
  • Because barium is not absorbed into the blood, allergic reactions are extremely rare.
  • No radiation remains in a patient's body after an x-ray.
  • X-rays usually have no side effects.

Lower GI Tract X-ray Risks

  • There is always a slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation. However, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk.
  • The effective radiation dose from this procedure is about 8 mSv, which is about the same as the average person receives from background radiation in 3 years. See the Safety page for more information about radiation dose.
  • In rare cases, the barium could leak through an undetected hole in the lower GI tract producing inflammation in surrounding tissues.
  • Even more rarely, the barium can cause an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract, called barium impaction.
  • Iodinated contrast administered rectally may cause allergic reactions, but this is very rare.
  • Women should always inform their physician or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

Minimizing Radiation Exposure

Special care is taken to use the lowest radiation dose possible while producing the best X-ray images. At Sky Ridge, we follow national and international radiology protection council standards.

Modern-day X-ray machines have tightly controlled X-ray beams that filter the beams and control the dose of radiation. This ensures that parts of a patient's body not being imaged receive minimal radiation exposure.