Irrigography is a radiological (X-ray) examination of the colon. It is not used so frequently, because in many indications it is replaced by colonoscopy. In addition, the colonoscopy allows to see the inside of colon directly by a camera, to take samples for histological examination and remove intestinal polyps.


The patient is usually administered mild sedative injection to make the examination less unpleasant. A thin tube is introduced into the rectum and through this tube, the colon is filled by contrast fluid and subsequently with air. When this part of the procedure is done, the abdominal X-ray is performed. The contrast agent makes visible the inside of the colon wall and the contour of the intestinal wall. The examination is performed in patent lying in horizontal position, but the patient may be further positioned to make the contrast agent spread in the whole intestine.

When a tranquilizer have been administered before the procedure, the patient should not drive motor vehicles for the rest of the day.


The last meal should be eaten at noon the day before the examination. Since then, it is allowed only to drink plenty of fluids. In addition, the patient should take a bowel-cleansing preparation according to doctor's prescription. As you can see, this preparation is quite similar to preparation before colonoscopy.


The irrigography can be performed in suspected diseases of the colon. Irrigography displays any irregularities of the intestinal wall and can inform us about the presence of inflammatory changes (ulcerative colitis, colitis in Crohn's disease), presence of colorectal tumor, large intestinal polyps, etc.


The patient is exposed to a certain dose of radiation. In addition, the examination is only indirect and any found pathology should be followed by colonoscopy.


The examination has no significant advantages over colonoscopy with exception of a lower load of the patient. The tube in irrigography is short and it is introduced only into the rectum, while in colonoscopy, the endoscopic device should directly examine the whole colon.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources