Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Emerg Med. 1990 Nov;8(6):523-7.

Whole bowel irrigation and the cocaine body-packer: a new approach to a common problem.

Author information

  • 1New York City Poison Control Center, NY 10016.


Gastrointestinal drug smuggling is a common problem in many major cities. Though the majority of cases never require medical attention, the "body-packer" frequently presents with life-threatening symptoms of intoxication, including seizures and cardiorespiratory collapse, as well as mechanical obstruction from the ingested drug packets. The risk to asymptomatic smugglers may vary with packaging materials, and remains unknown. Lack of controlled studies, and variations in packaging materials and clinical outcomes have prevented formulation of a consistent management strategy. Current recommendations for asymptomatic body-packers vary from immediate surgical removal, to use of laxatives, to observation. The authors present the first reported case of an asymptomatic cocaine body-packer treated with whole bowel irrigation with polyethylene glycol electrolyte lavage solution. This strategy was safe, well tolerated, resulted in the rapid elimination of drug packets from the gastrointestinal tract, and facilitated assessment by contrast radiography. The potential benefits and limitations for the use of whole bowel irrigation in this difficult problem are discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center