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Intern Med. 2008;47(7):643-6. Epub 2008 Apr 1.

Extreme hyperphosphatemia and hypocalcemic coma associated with phosphate enema.

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Department of Nephrology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Keelung, Taiwan.


Fleet enema (sodium phosphate, C.B. Fleet Co., Inc., Lynchburg, Virginia) is widely used for bowel preparation or constipation relief in the hospital and over the counter. The potential risks, including hyperphosphatemia and hypocalcemic coma should be kept in mind of primary care physician. The patients with older age, bowel obstruction, small intestinal disorders, poor gut motility, and renal disease are contraindicated or should be administered with caution. We present a patient with old age and chronic renal failure who developed severe hyperphosphatemia and hypocalcemic tetany with coma after sodium phosphate enema. We recommend the use of alternative enema preparations, such as simple tap water or saline solution enemas, which can prevent fatal complications in high risk patients.

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