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Acute symptomatic hyponatraemia following sodium picosulfate/magnesium citrate as bowel preparation for colonoscopy—A case series

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DOI: 10.4236/crcm.2014.32025    3,500 Downloads   5,232 Views   Citations


Oral purgatives such as sodium phosphate and sodium picosulfate/magnesium citrate (Picolax) combinations are commonly used as a preparation step for colonoscopies in Ireland. These substances can occasionally cause significant electrolyte disturbances including hyponatraemia. Although this is a rare complication of undergoing a colonoscopy, if not treated promptly and appropriately, these electrolyte abnormalities can be associated with life threatening complications. We report cases of symptomatic hyponatraemia in three women aged 65-75 years, following ingestion of Picolax in preparation for a colonoscopy. All three patients had documented previously normal electrolytes and all three required hospital admission for management of their electrolyte disturbance. However, the clinical presentations were variable and depended upon the severity of the hyponatraemia. Patient 1 presented with nausea and vomiting 7 hours post Picolax ingestion. Plasma sodium was 124 mmol/l. She was diagnosed with mild symptomatic hyponatraemia, and treated with anti-emetics and slow intravenous infusion of 0.9% Saline. Patient 2 developed acute confusion 8 hours following ingestion of Picolax. Plasma sodium was 120 mmol/l and she was clinically dehydrated. She was also treated with intravenous 0.9% Saline. Patient 3 presented with seizures and reduced GCS, 48 hours post Picolax ingestion. Plasma sodium was 111 mmol/l. As she had severe life threatening hyponatraemia with seizures, she was treated with boluses of 3% hypertonic saline. It is recommended that cleansing agents should be used with caution in the elderly, patients with a low seizure threshold, patients with renal impairment, liver cirrhosis, heart failure, and patients on diuretics. These patients should have plasma sodium monitored pre- and post-colonoscopy to ensure early detection of hyponatraemia if present, and to initiate prompt and appropriate management to prevent the serious complications associated with hyponatraemia.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Forde, H. , O’Shea, T. , Davenport, C. and Smith, D. (2014) Acute symptomatic hyponatraemia following sodium picosulfate/magnesium citrate as bowel preparation for colonoscopy—A case series. Case Reports in Clinical Medicine, 3, 101-104. doi: 10.4236/crcm.2014.32025.


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