Administering polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution via a nasogastric tube: Pulmonary complications

Norma A. Metheny, Kathleen L. Meert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Patients sometimes require insertion of a nasogastric tube for the administration of a large volume of a polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution. If the tube is malpositioned, the risk for direct instillation of the solution into the lung increases. The risk for aspiration also increases if the infusion rate exceeds gastrointestinal tolerance. Purpose To review published cases of patients' experiencing adverse pulmonary events after administration of polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution via a nasogastric tube and to offer suggestions to prevent these outcomes. Methods A search of the literature from 1993 through 2014 was performed by using the PubMed, MEDLINE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Scopus databases. Results In the 12 case reports located, none of the patients had radiographs to verify tube location before infusion of polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution. After symptoms developed in 3 children (ages 8-11 years), radiographs showed their tubes incorrectly positioned in the bronchus, lung, or esophagus; ports of a fourth child's tube were in the oropharynx. The remaining 8 patients (ages 5-86 years) never had radiographs to determine tube placement. Pulmonary complications from the infusions of polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution contributed to the death of 5 of the patients. Conclusion Relatively simple maneuvers to reduce the likelihood of adverse pulmonary events following the administration of large volumes of polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution via a nasogastric tube are well worth the cost and effort to protect patients from potential serious injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e11-e17
JournalAmerican Journal of Critical Care
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

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