Consumer Watchdog Group Claims Bowel-Cleansing Products Used Prior to Colonoscopies Linked to Kidney Failure

Public Citizen, a Washington DC-based “national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts” has posted information on its website,, indicating some bowel-cleansing products used prior to colonoscopies have now been linked to chronic kidney failure.

In its web posting, the group cited a recent study from the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology which showed that certain bowel-cleansing products containing sodium-phosphate can cause chronic kidney failure.

In the cited study, researchers at the Columbia Collage of Physicians and Surgeons reviewed all of the kidney biopsies received at the facility between January 2000 and December 2004. They found that 31 patients had kidney damage that was indicative of phosphate toxicity. Of those 31 patients, 20 had taken an oral phosphate solution prior to a colonoscopy.

According to Public Citizen, the prescription oral medication Viscol and the non-prescription product Fleet Phospho-soda are two common bowel-cleansing drugs that contain sodium phosphate.

Factors such as inadequate hydration, a history of high blood pressure, and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as ibuprofen and Celebrex (a COX-2 inhibitor) may increase the possibility of the development of kidney problems when a sodium-phosphate bowel cleansing product is used.

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