Colonic Lavage

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Alternative—quackery Colon therapy
Surgery Colonic irrigation
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.


(la-vazh') [Fr. lavage, a washing]
Washing out of a cavity. Synonym: irrigation

bronchoalveolar lavage

The removal of secretions, cells, and protein from the lower respiratory tract by insertion of sterile saline solution into the airways through a fiber-optic bronchoscope or a blindly inserted catheter. The fluid may be used to treat cystic fibrosis, pulmonary alveolar proteinosis, or bronchial obstruction due to mucus plugging, or to obtain specimens for diagnostic purposes.
Synonym: bronchopulmonary lavage

bronchopulmonary lavage

Bronchoalveolar lavage.

colonic lavage

Colonic irrigation.

ductal lavage

The injection of a small amount of saline into the ducts of the breast through a miniature catheter, followed by collection of the fluid and the cells that wash out with it. The cells are analyzed for evidence of early changes that may suggest an increased risk of future cancers. Occasionally they may reveal an already established cancer.

gastric lavage

Rinsing or irrigating the stomach to remove or dilute irritants or poisons or to cleanse the stomach before or after surgery. Gastric lavage, colloquially called stomach pumping, is used most often to manage patients who have ingested potentially toxic medications, street drugs, hydrocarbons, or other noncorrosive poisons. Its use in overdose is controversial. Effectiveness depends on absorption speed and the time between ingestion and removal. It has not been shown to improve clinical outcomes except perhaps in those instances in which the patient presents for care within an hour of ingesting a life-threatening amount of poison. The procedure has some risks: the trachea, instead of the stomach, may be intubated; gastric contents may be aspirated; and the mouth, teeth, pharynx, or esophagus may be injured.

Patient care

The following equipment is needed: plastic large-lumen nasogastric tube; water-soluble lubricant; disposable irrigation set with bulb syringe; adhesive tape or other device; clamp, safety pins, and rubber band; gloves and stethoscope; tissues; glass of water with straw; emesis basin; container for aspirant; at least 500 to 1000 ml of prescribed irrigating solution; and any specified antidote.

Physical restraints are applied only if prescribed and required. The patient's clothing is removed and a hospital gown put on. If conscious and cooperative, the patient is placed in the high Fowler's position (head elevated 80 to 90°), and the chest is covered with a water-impermeable bib or drape. If unconscious, the patient is positioned to prevent aspiration of stomach contents; suction equipment is provided, and the airway is protected.

The distance for tube insertion is measured by placing the tip of the tube at the tip of the patient's nose and extending the tube to the earlobe and then to the xiphoid process. The length of tubing that will remain outside the patient after insertion is marked on the tube. Nostril patency is checked and the nostril with the least obstruction is selected. While the patient or an assistant holds the emesis basin, the nurse lubricates the tip of the tube and inserts it. A downward and backward motion aids passage through the back of the nose and down into the nasopharynx, thus avoiding producing a gag reflex. The patient is instructed to dry-swallow during this phase of passage. The tube should not be forced. If obstruction is met, the tube is removed, the patient permitted to rest briefly, the tube relubricated, and the procedure attempted again. If the tube cannot be passed without traumatizing the mucosa, the physician is notified.

When the tube is in the nasopharynx, the patient is instructed to flex the neck slightly to bring the head forward. A sip of water (if permitted) is given to the patient, and the patient is encouraged to swallow the tube. Rotating the tube toward the opposite nostril often helps direct toward the esophagus and away from the trachea. Placing the nondominant hand on the nose to secure the tube, the practitioner advances it with the dominant hand as the patient swallows.

The back of the throat is periodically inspected for any evidence of coiled tubing, esp. if the patient is gagging or uncomfortable, or unconscious. When the tube has been passed, placement is verified by aspirating gastric contents with the bulb syringe. The tube is then secured to the nostrils with adhesive tape or another securing device according to protocol.


Gastric lavage should never be performed on a patient who has ingested corrosive acids or alkalis. It also should never be performed on patients who cannot protect their own airways unless they are already intubated.

The irrigation fluid is instilled, and care is taken to prevent the entrance of air. A Y connector can be attached to the nasogastric tube, with one tubing exiting to the bulb syringe or irrigant container and the other to a drainage set. The return line is clamped, and the solution, usually 500 ml or more, instilled to distend the stomach and expose all areas to the solution. The large volume also dilutes harmful liquids and thins or dissolves other materials.

The patient is monitored throughout for retching. If retching occurs, the flow is stopped, suction is applied to the bulb syringe, or the drainage line is opened to remove some of the instilled fluid. The stomach is then drained, and the procedure is repeated as necessary to cleanse and empty the stomach of harmful materials and irrigant. Alternatively, 150 to 200 ml may be removed and the same amount added on an alternating basis. The process is repeated until a total of 1000 ml has been employed and drained. An activated charcoal slurry is then instilled as appropriate and prescribed.

A specimen of the aspirant is sent to the laboratory for analysis as directed. The tube may remain in place, attached to intermittent low suction, or be removed immediately after the procedure.

For removal, the tube is clamped securely. Any securing devices are removed, and the tube is rotated gently to ensure that it moves freely and then is gently but steadily pulled out of the nose and coiled. The patient is handed tissues to wipe the eyes and blow the nose and is assisted with oral hygiene. A fresh gown or linens are provided as necessary.

After the procedure, the tube and prescribed suction are maintained as necessary, drainage is documented, comfort measures (oral misting, anesthetic throat sprays) are provided, and the patient is assessed and treated for any complications of lavage or of the toxic exposure.

nasal lavage

Flushing of the nose and/or sinuses with fluid, e.g., with a device such as a bulb syringe or neti pot. It is used to treat nasal congestion and allergies.
Synonym: nasal irrigation

peritoneal lavage

Irrigation of the peritoneal cavity, e.g., to diagnose blunt abdominal trauma; to diagnose, by obtaining cytologic specimens, or treat tumors of the peritoneum with chemotherapeutic agents; and to treat peritonitis, assist in evacuation of blood, fecal soilage, and/or purulent secretions as in hemorrhage or peritonitis.

pulsatile lavage

, pulse lavage
Irrigation of a wound or surgical field with high-pressure jets of liquid, e.g., to remove particulate debris or necrotic tissue.

pulsed lavage

Irrigation of a tissue surface or body cavity with intermittent sprays or splashes of fluid. It is used in several procedures to reduce the bacterial burden of contaminated surfaces, but it may occasionally cause tissue damage or infection if nonsterile solutions are accidentally employed.
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners
References in periodicals archive ?
Over time, the concept of a one-stage resection with intraoperative colonic lavage and primary anastomosis evolved as a potential surgical alternative to subtotal colectomy.
More recent studies have described implementation of Dudley et al.'s technique for on-table antegrade colonic lavage, with only slight modification of the catheter location (through the appendix, terminal ileum, or cecum) to deliver irrigation and decrease fecal load proximal to the obstructing lesion in preparation for a primary anastomosis.
Increasing stool volumes with regular oral fibre supplementation, together with oral laxatives such as senna preparations given the night before combined with either manual removal, a mini-enema or in well-trained/ experienced patients a colonic lavage (such as Coloplast) are key ingredients of an effective flaccid bowel management programme.