Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) and Electrolytes

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What are PEG and electrolytes?

PEG and electrolytes are oral solutions used prior to colonoscopy and other examinations or procedures to cleanse the intestines, in particular, the large bowel or colon. The PEG remains in the intestines where it retains water by producing an osmotic effect. This causes a watery stool, in fact, diarrhea, which rapidly cleanses the bowel within hours. Polyethylene 3350 is used in all of the formulations. Since electrolytes (sodium, potassium, etc.) are lost with diarrhea, electrolytes are added to the PEG to replace or prevent the losses. The electrolytes and their concentrations may vary from product-to-product. PEG and electrolyte containing products are mixed with water and drunk for the cleanse.

What are examples of PEG and electrolytes available in the United States?

Examples of PEG and electrolytes brand names are:

Quick GuideDigestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions

Digestive Disorders: Common Misconceptions
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