Rectal perforation from colonic irrigation administered by alternative practitioners

Doug V Handley, Nick A Rieger and David J Rodda
Med J Aust 2004; 181 (10): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2004.tb06454.x
Published online: 15 November 2004

To the Editor: Colonic irrigation is the introduction of a large volume of fluid into the colon via the rectum. This volume may be up to 50 litres, run in and out by means of a rectal tube, in an effort to empty the bowel. This treatment is often administered by a practitioner of complementary or alternative medicine, without medical advice. The fluid may be driven by gravitational or mechanical force.1 Recognised risks from colonic irrigation are electrolyte imbalance, bowel perforation and communicable diseases such as amoebiasis.2


  • 1. Colonic irrigation and the theory of autointoxication: a triumph of ignorance over science [editorial]. J Clin Gastroenterol 1997; 24: 196-198.
  • 2. National Health and Medical Research Council Medicine Advisory Committee. Colonic irrigation. Report of the Session (NHMRC) 1982 October Canberra. Canberra: NHMRC, 1982. (Indexed in Australasian Medical Index Jan 2004.)
  • 3. Parun H, Butnarug G, Neufeld D, et al. Enema induced perforation of the rectum in chronically constipated patients. Dis Colon Rectum 1999; 42: 1609-1612.


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