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Defecating proctogram

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A defecating proctogram is a special X-ray study that can be very important in helping us to determine the cause of a patients symptoms of evacuatory difficulty, pelvic floor pain and faecal incontinence.  It is not painful.  We appreciate that you might well be embarrassed having people study your most intimate bodily functions.  These people are professionals who appreciate what you are going through.  They will help you as much as possible.

Our local expert is Helen Carter who works within the Dept. of Radiology at Frenchay, North Bristol.  She will send you appropriate information about what to expect, times etc.  Investigations are usually performed on a thursday morning. 

On the day before your test you will be asked to drink some oral contrast (barium) a liquid that helps the intestines show up more clearly on X-ray film.  The rectum will then be filled with a thick, X-ray visible paste (mixture of barium and potato "smash") to simulate a loose stool.   Helen will ask you to smear some barium past within your vagina.  In some people with bladder problems, we also administer an intravenous injection to show up the bladder.  If you have any allergies or asthma please let us know.  The test is not painful.  

X-ray pictures will be taken of your pelvis as you are asked to squeeze you pelvic muscles and then as you eliminate the paste on a special commode.


The defeocating proctogram is useful for identifying - understanding rectal intussusception, rectocele, cystocele (see above) rectal and vaginal prolapse and anismus. The study may also help reveal which organs are prolapsing into the vaginal hernia.

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