Pain after barium enema: effect of CO2 and air on double-contrast study.
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One hundred fifty-one consecutive patients scheduled for double-contrast barium enema studies were assigned randomly to insufflation with either air or carbon dioxide (CO2) in a double-blind, prospective trial. Within 24 hours after the enema study, the patients were contacted by telephone by an interviewer, who completed a standard questionnaire. Radiographs from the enema studies were assessed for quality by two radiologists. Pain experienced after the procedure was graded from 0 (none) to 4 (severe). Clinically relevant (grades 2-4) pain was experienced by 30% of patients after insufflation with room air, compared with 11% of patients in whom CO2 was used for insufflation (P = .005). The mean pain score for CO2 was 0.4, and for room air, 1.2 (P less than .005). Although five patients experienced grade 4 pain after insufflation with air, no patient reported severe pain after CO2 insufflation. Post-evacuation films confirmed there was significantly less residual gas in the CO2 group. The quality of radiographs was equal in the two groups. CO2 has advantages for use in the double-contrast barium enema examination.
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