Use of polyethylene glycol in functional constipation and fecal impaction.


Dr Swati Bhave    08 May 2018

The aim of a study published in the Revista Espanola de Enfermedades Digestivas was to evaluate the evidence published so far on the use of polyethylene glycol (PEG), with or without electrolytes, in the management of functional constipation and the treatment of fecal impaction, in an analytical and descriptive manner.

This study entailed a search on all articles from MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane databases until May 2016 based on constipation and/or fecal impaction and polyethylene glycol (PEG). The study included 58 publications for descriptive analysis, of which, 41 were clinical trials, eight were observational studies and nine were systematic reviews or meta-analysis.

It was noted that 12 clinical trials evaluated PEG efficacy versus placebo; eight versus lactulose; six were dose studies; five compared polyethylene glycol with and without electrolytes; two compared its efficacy with respect to milk of magnesia; and the rest of the trials evaluated polyethylene glycol with enemas. The findings indicated that polyethylene glycol with electrolytes was more efficacious than placebo for the treatment of functional constipation, in adults and in pediatric patients, exhibiting great safety and tolerability.

From the results, it was inferred that polyethylene glycol with electrolytes constitute the most efficacious osmotic laxatives and are the first-line treatment for functional constipation in the short and long-term. It was stated that PEG+E is as efficacious as enemas in fecal impaction and avoid the need for hospital admission, and is well tolerated by patients, including children.

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