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Contrast Imaging

What is contrast imaging?
Many imaging studies require a contrast material to help radiologists see internal organs and tissues more easily and more clearly.

What are some common reasons why contrast imaging may be performed?
Contrast imaging can be used to study many organs and structures in your body. Procedures that use contrast imaging include:

  • Barium enema
    • Barium, the contrast material, is introduced into your colon by way of your anus. You may need to obtain a cleansing kit from a drugstore.
    • X-rays are used to examine your colon.
  • Barium swallow/esophagram
    • You drink barium, the contrast material, to coat your esophagus.
    • X-rays are used to examine your esophagus.
  • Enteroclysis
    • You swallow a small, soft plastic tube that passes into your esophagus, stomach, and then small intestine.
    • The tube is used to introduce contrast material into your small intestine.
    • X-rays are used to examine your small intestine.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP)
    • A flexible, lighted tube is inserted into your mouth and then your stomach, small bowel, and the ducts of your gallbladder and pancreas.
    • A smaller plastic catheter is then inserted within the lighted tube in order to locate the tiny opening in your small bowel.
    • The tube is used to introduce contrast material into the ducts of your gallbladder and pancreas.
    • X-rays are used to examine your gallbladder and pancreas.
  • Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
    • Initial X-rays are taken of your kidneys, ureters, and bladder.
    • Contrast material is introduced into your body by an IV in your arm.
    • X-rays are then taken again to examine your urinary system.
  • Small bowel series
    • You drink barium, the contrast material, to coat your stomach and small bowel.
    • X-rays are used to examine your small intestine.
  • Upper GI series
    • You drink barium, the contrast material, to coat your esophagus, stomach, and upper portion of your small intestine.
    • X-rays are used to examine your esophagus, stomach, and upper portion of your small intestine.
  • Voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG)
    • A thin tube is inserted through the opening where you urinate and then into your bladder.
    • Contrast material is introduced through the tube into your bladder.
    • X-rays are used to examine your bladder.

How is contrast imaging performed?
You will be instructed about what to wear to your appointment, what to eat before the test, how the test will be performed, and how the test will feel.

Before, after, or during an imaging test, contrast material will be introduced into your body. You will be asked to drink contrast material, contrast material will be introduced into your body by an IV in your arm, or contrast material will be introduced through a tube inserted into your body. Sedatives may be used when needed.

How do I schedule a contrast imaging procedure?
Contrast imaging procedures can be performed at Sacred Heart Hospital and Sacred Heart Imaging Northampton, an affiliate of Sacred Heart HealthCare System.

To schedule a contrast imaging procedure at Sacred Heart Hospital, please call One Call Scheduling at 610-776-5180.

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