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J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2004;42(6):843-54.

Position paper: whole bowel irrigation.

[No authors listed]

Erratum in

  • J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2004;42(7):1000. Dosage error in article text.


Whole bowel irrigation (WBI) should not be used routinely in the management of the poisoned patient. Although some volunteer studies have shown substantial decreases in the bioavailability of ingested drugs, no controlled clinical trials have been performed and there is no conclusive evidence that WBI improves the outcome of the poisoned patient. Based on volunteer studies, WBI should be considered for potentially toxic ingestions of sustained-release or enteric-coated drugs particularly for those patients presenting greater than two hours after drug ingestion. WBI should be considered for patients who have ingested substantial amounts of iron as the morbidity is high and there is a lack of other options for gastrointestinal decontamination. The use of WBI for the removal of ingested packets of illicit drugs is also a potential indication. WBI is contraindicated in patients with bowel obstruction, perforation, ileus, and in patients with hemodynamic instability or compromised unprotected airways. WBI should be used cautiously in debilitated patients or in patients with medical conditions that may be further compromised by its use. The concurrent administration of activated charcoal and WBI may decrease the effectiveness of the charcoal. The clinical relevance of this interaction is uncertain. A review of the literature since the preparation of the 1997 Whole Bowel Irrigation Position Statement revealed no new evidence that would require a revision of the conclusions of the Statement.

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