Double contrast barium enema sensitivity: a comparison of studies by radiographers and radiologists

Clin Radiol. 2002 Jul;57(7):604-7. doi: 10.1053/crad.2002.0952.


Purpose: A retrospective study of histologically proven cases of colorectal cancer (CRC) was performed to assess whether the sensitivity of the radiographer-performed double contrast barium enema (DCBE) differed from that of the radiologist-performed study.

Materials and methods: Histologically proven cases of CRC were reviewed over a 3-year period to ascertain whether: the diagnosis had been made by DCBE in the 3 years before histological diagnosis; the lesion had been correctly diagnosed; the examination had been performed by a radiologist or radiographer.

Results: In the 3-year period there were 478 cases with histologically proven CRC. Of these, 239 (50%) had undergone DCBE as the initial radiological investigation of the colon. Sixty-four examinations had been performed by radiographers. A correct diagnosis was made in 58 cases (90.6%), the report was equivocal in one case (1.6%), there were four false-negatives (6.25%), and one case was abandoned (1.6%). One hundred and seventy-five examinations were performed by radiologists. A correct diagnosis was made in 157 cases (89.7%), the report was equivocal in one case (0.6%), there were 16 false-negatives (9.1%), and one case was abandoned (0.6%).

Conclusion: A sensitivity of 90.6% for radiographer-performed studies compared favourably with 89.7% for radiologist-performed studies and supports the practice of radiographers undertaking barium enemas.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Barium Sulfate*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Enema*
  • England
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Humans
  • Radiography / standards
  • Radiology / standards
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Barium Sulfate