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Dig Surg. 2000;17(1):66-70.

Randomized trial of oral sodium phosphate compared with oral sodium picosulphate (Picolax) for elective colorectal surgery and colonoscopy.

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University Department of Surgery, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK.



Sodium picosulphate (Picolax) is considered by most British surgeons as standard preparation for colonoscopy and elective surgery. Oral sodium phosphate may be better tolerated and more efficient as bowel preparation.


A randomized trial was performed to compare oral sodium phosphate (n = 76) with Picolax (n = 77) as bowel preparation for elective colorectal surgery. A parallel study randomized colonoscopy patients to sodium phosphate (n = 51) or Picolax (n = 52). Patient acceptability was measured for seven symptoms with a linear analogue score. Quality of preparation was graded by the surgeon and faecal residue was measured in resection specimens. During colonoscopy, bowel preparation has graded 0-24 using an endoscopic score.


Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, embarrassment, fear and fatigue did not differ significantly between the groups. Surgeons grade of quality was judged poor or awful in 5 of 76 in the sodium phosphate group (9%) compared with 13 of 73 in the Picolax group (18%, p = 0.084). Mean faecal residue in the resection specimen was 0.1 g/cm after sodium phosphate compared with 0.45 g/cm after Picolax (p < 0.01). The endoscopic score was significantly lower using sodium phosphate (2.0 +/- 2.2) than picolax (3.1 +/- 2.9; p < 0.05).


These results suggest that oral sodium phosphate is well tolerated and superior to Picolax in elective colorectal surgery and colonoscopy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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