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Colonoscopy preparation may have risks

Purgatives linked to kidney failure

Mar 20, 2006 |

Of all the yucky aspects of getting a colonoscopy, an exam that screens for cancer of the colon and other abnormalities the yuckiest is the preparation that takes place beforehand: emptying the bowel by ingesting purgatives.

Now some bowel-cleansing products used prior to colonoscopies have been linked to chronic kidney failure, according to Public Citizen, the consumer advocacy organization. It cited recent research published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology showing purgatives containing sodium phosphate are an under-recognized cause of chronic kidney failure in the United States.

Common bowel-cleansing drugs that include sodium phosphate are Visicol, a prescription oral tablet, and the non-prescription product Fleet Phospho-soda. Researchers cite several potential factors that may contribute to the development of kidney problems from sodium phosphate solutions, including inadequate hydration, a history of high blood pressure and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Researchers from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York reviewed 7,349 kidney biopsies in their facility between January 2000 and December 2004 and found 31 patients who had kidney damage that was consistent with phosphate toxicity.

Two-thirds of them had taken oral phosphate solutions prior to having colonoscopies.

Worst Pills, Best Pills is a monthly newsletter available in print and electronic formats through Public Citizen's Web site, www. It bills itself as an "expert, indepedent source for prescription drug information."

Public Citizen warned consumers about the dangers of Vioxx, ephedra, Baycol and Propulsid years before the drugs were pulled from the market.

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