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J Emerg Med. 1986;4(1):43-7.

Gastric lavage.


Gastric lavage has been used to manage toxic ingestions since the early 1800s. The entire realm of gastrointestinal decontamination has been extensively studied for the past 30 years. Recommendations are still evolving and remain controversial. The current indications for lavage are obtundation, unprotected airway, seizures, the need for urgent removal, and the tendency to form concretions. Hydrocarbon management depends on specific toxicity and viscosity. Contraindications for this procedure are insignificant ingestions, prolonged time since ingestion, and caustic poisoning. Proper technique minimizes complications and maximizes toxin removal. Activated charcoal and a cathartic are given after lavage. Complications include nasal trauma, esophageal perforation, tracheal intubation, aspiration, electrolyte imbalance, and hypothermia.

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