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Programs & Services - Medical Imaging

Contrast Media

Intravenous Contrast

Administered through an IV and injected by a pump, intravenous contrast is a liquid that runs through the blood vessels of the body illuminating tissues and organs and outlining blood vessels. With the areas now clearly distinguishable from one another, images can be taken at various times during scanning.

Oral Contrast

Oral contrast is a liquid-like substance taken by mouth to outline the stomach and upper intestine during scanning. A patient must drink about 500 to 800 millilitres (two to three and 1/2 cups) of the barium or gastrograffin varieties of oral contrast. Barium, known to be chalky in texture, is commonly used next to gastrograffin – a clear liquid with a somewhat bitter taste when mixed with water. After 45 to 60 minutes after drinking, the patient is ready for scanning.

Rectal Contrast

Rectal contrast involves insertion of a thin tube in the rectum through which barium or gastrograffin is administered. While slightly uncomfortable and leaving patients feeling full, the process outlines the lower bowel during scanning and lasts only a few minutes. Once scanning is complete, patients are drained of the agent and escorted to a washroom.