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A barium enema, sometimes called a lower gastrointestinal (GI) series, is a procedure that examines the rectum, the large intestine, and the lower part of the small intestine using a contrast dye containing barium. The barium—a metallic chemical, chalky-liquid—coats the inside of the organs so that it will appear on an X-ray, showing strictures (narrowed areas), obstructions (blockages), and other problems.