Whole body irrigation for contraband bodypackers
by
Farmer JW, Chan SB.
Emergency Medicine Residency Program,
Resurrection Medical Center,
Chicago, Illinois, USA.
J Clin Gastroenterol. 2003 Aug;37(2):147-50


ABSTRACT

GOALS: Investigate outcomes of contraband body packers treated with whole bowel irrigation (WBI) using oral polyethylene glycol (PEG). Compare with prior studies of treatments using mild laxatives and/or observation. BACKGROUND: Drug smuggling via the gastrointestinal tract has risks including sudden death. Other studies have reported complication rates between 4% and 22%. STUDY: Retrospective case series of patients body packing contraband, and treated with WBI using PEG solution. Outcome measures include length of hospital stay (LOS) and complications. Statistical inferences using Spearman rank correlation and Fisher Exact tests. RESULTS: Sixteen patients with mean age 27.9 (SD 8.8). There were 2 complications (12.5%) and no deaths. There was no significant difference in complication frequency when compared with other reported treatment methods (P = 0.57, P = 0.48, P = 1.0). Mean LOS was 49.4 hours (SD 29.6). There was no correlation between mean LOS and either PEG dose (P = 0.89), drug type (P = 0.76), packet quantity (P = 0.34), or packet weight (P = 0.99). CONCLUSIONS: In this limited case series, WBI with PEG was used to treat contraband body packers with no higher complication frequency than other reported methods. The drug type, packet quantity, packet weight, and PEG dose did not correlate with the length of hospital stay.
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