Crohn's Disease Forum » Support Forum » Vent Away » Couldn't drink the contrast

06-11-2013, 11:47 AM   #1
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Couldn't drink the contrast

I went in for an MRI scan of my small bowel today, and they handed me three big bottles of flavorless barium sulfate. I started out okay, but once I had stomached 2/3rds of the bottle, I was gagging constantly and feeling extremely nauseous.

I couldn't handle another half a bottle and the rest of the first one, so they couldn't do the scan...I'm really upset and feel like a failure. I feel extremely weak, and that I just cause problems for everyone.

I don't know what to mom has to take time off of work to bring me to appointments, and I feel I've wasted her time.

It's not fair...making us with IBD drink all of that disgusting contrast...I'm just feeling really hopeless and alone...I know the doctor said another option would be to get an NG tube and have the barium put in me that way, but...

I just really need some support...I feel alone and just feel like a burden for everyone...
Diagnosed with Crohn's Ileocolitis, Gastroparesis, SIBO, and chronic migraines.
06-11-2013, 11:50 AM   #2
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I have a hard time drinking that stuff, too. Sorry they couldn't do the scan.

But you aren't alone and you certainly aren't a burden!
Crohn's Sucks!
06-11-2013, 11:53 AM   #3
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Honestly, I'm surprised they didn't go ahead and do the scan. I have similar issues with the contrast, and both times I've had to drink it, I only got a small portion down (less than 2/3 of a bottle when I had a CT scan). They went ahead and did the tests and there were no issues.

It's absolutely not your fault! It's very common to have problems with contrast. It's difficult to get down, for sure.

The NG tube might be the best route if you can't get any more contrast down and they don't want to attempt the scan on the amount you did drink. I know that's frustrating, but it'd get the job done and then it'd be over with.

I'm sorry you had to go through that, Everly!

Diagnosed with Crohn's disease 12/6/08.
Have taken: Prednisone, 6mp, methotrexate, Pentasa.
Currently waiting for a new medication!

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06-11-2013, 12:12 PM   #4
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Hi Everly
it is not uncommon that people have difficulty swallowing the awful contrast fluid.
It would be helpful if they would use a flavoring of some kind.
I always have trouble getting it down and keeping it there but at least have had caring and helpful radiology staff.
It is too bad you were not encouraged more.
A recent CAT scan I had the fluid was an orange colour and was lighter to drink--it had a light flavor to it.
However the third cup was not easy to get down but I made it.
It is NOT your fault that you had difficulty getting it down.
They should have given you a nasogastric tube when the oral route failed.
It goes in very easily and not something to dread.You can do this...
So sorry you had such a negative experience.
Feel better soon
Hugs and best wishes
06-11-2013, 03:39 PM   #5
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I am also surprised they did not do the scan. I mean you were able to chug down some of the stuff. I mean here is the thing, when you say you could not handle drinking anymore, was it because of the taste of the awful stuff or was your stomach just not handling it???? Because if it was just swallowing the stuff that was a problem, then the tube thing would help. But if it was your gut with the issues, then you would still have a problem with the tube too. Some people cannot handle that stuff, it even makes some people puke, they cannot hold it down. There has to be alternatives. I remember reading on here about a girl( cannot remember who it was), well she said she was allergic or could not handle the contrast so she drinks plain rice milk( a lot of it), but it did the job and they were able to get a good picture. Maybe try looking it up on the boards here. I remember reading it though when I had to go through this test. I had a very hard time with that crap. I was able to drink it no problem. But the aftermath was a nightmare. It gave me severe diarrhea all day long which was followed by a nasty UTI! If I ever have to have the test again, I will be asking for an alternative to that nasty drink. Was your drink sweet? Mine was and it was terrible. It was loaded with artificial sweetners which I cannot tolerate. The stupid radiologist told me all it contained was barium sulfate. I would not have drank it had I known it had those toxic sweetners in it.
06-11-2013, 03:53 PM   #6
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The NG tube is a good choice. I did the NG tube when I got crohn's disease the first time. I hate the contrast too, NG tube is much easier, a nurse will help you and you won't have to taste the stuff.
06-11-2013, 04:06 PM   #7
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Honey's Avatar
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Location: United Kingdom
Hi there,
Do not be too upset, it is awful stuff to drink. When I had my scan , the nurse actually had Robinsons fruit juice to add to it to make it more palateable. Ask about bringing eg Roses lime juice to add!! Also, speak to your own doctor and ask for anti- nausea medication!! I take one Buccastem 3 mg, which you suck and not swallow, before these tests. I hope this helps!! You will get there, do not worry. Best wishes.
06-11-2013, 04:13 PM   #8
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I am also surprised they didn't go ahead with the scan. I never didn't finish it but have at times felt nauseous trying to down it. I can totally understand feeling horrible and not being able to drink it. You have an illness, you cannot blame yourself and are not a failure. There will be another option.
06-11-2013, 04:28 PM   #9
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It's not a nice thing to drink. You need to be rather calm to get it all down, by sipping it until the very end. One way that always helped me is using an orange or lemon lozenge and get the taste out of your mouth quickly in between - this sort of, at least psychologically also helps with stomaching the thing.
Crohn's diagnosed in 1999
On Aza from 2003 to 2008 and from 2010 again until Today
60cm of smaller intestine removed in 2003
Vitamin therapy with D3, B6, B12, magnesium, zinc, folic acid for years
Iron therapy with Tardyferron 80mgx2 and Loesferron 80mg for years
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