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May 27, 1944


JAMA. 1944;125(4):302. doi:10.1001/jama.1944.02850220064025

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To the Editor:—  Is it not time to protest against the practice of roentgenologists prescribing strong cathartics preceding an examination of the bowel? In this neighborhood it is apparently the custom to order 3 teaspoons of compound senna (licorice) powder or an ounce of castor oil.Is it any wonder that a large number of the patients show a picture of irritable or spastic colon? In 2 patients who showed violently active colon and spasms, I have had the barium enema repeated two and three days later and found the colon quiescent and not even suggestive of spastic colon. A number of the better roentgenologists have told me that they are no longer committing themselves to a diagnosis of spastic colon, as it is too common a finding.But more important is the danger when powerful cathartics are prescribed for patients whose condition is unknown, and without any history being

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