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December 1958

Water Intoxication Following Tap-Water Enemas

Author Affiliations

Departments of Pediatrics, Boston City Hospital, and the Boston University School of Medicine.

AMA Am J Dis Child. 1958;96(6):699-704. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1958.02060060701008

Tap-water enemas have recently been incriminated as dangerous procedures, capable of producing a clinical state of water intoxication and sometimes death. Because of several fatalities reported following tap-water enemas, many pediatricians now feel that these are contraindicated in any situation and give detailed instructions to parents regarding the preparation of isotonic solutions. Hill,1 in an editorial, reports that "the routine has been adopted in our institution of employing only isotonic saline solution for all enemas."

It is our belief that satisfactory evidence has not been presented to show that the routine use of tap-water enemas in normal persons has a deleterious effect. It is our contention that water intoxication, resulting from enemas, develops only in a child with a functionally dilated or atonic large bowel. This study will endeavor to demonstrate that the routine administration of a tap-water enema to a patient having no history of chronic constipation and

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