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Milk and Molasses Enemas: Clearing Things Up

Published:November 01, 2013DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jen.2013.08.012

      Introduction

      We aimed to describe current nursing practice and clarify the safest and most effective dose of milk and molasses enemas used to relieve constipation in pediatric patients presenting to a suburban pediatric emergency department.

      Methods

      We surveyed emergency nurses about current practice in administration of milk and molasses enemas. In addition, we identified consecutive patients aged 2 to 17 years with a discharge diagnosis of constipation or abdominal pain between 2009 and 2012. Stable patients were included from the emergency department, in the absence of chronic medical conditions. For each patient, we recorded demographic characteristics, chief complaint, nursing administration technique, stool output, patient tolerance, side effects, amount of enema given, and patient disposition.

      Results

      We identified 500 patients with abdominal pain or constipation, 87 of whom were later excluded. Milk and molasses enemas were found to be effective at relieving constipation in our population, with a success rate averaging 88% in patients given 5 to 6 mL/kg with an institutional guideline maximum of 135 mL. The success rate was found to vary with age, along with the amount of enema given.

      Discussion

      Our nursing survey showed that varying practice exists regarding technique and dosing of milk and molasses enemas. Historical chart review showed that milk and molasses enemas in our emergency department were safe and effective with minimal side effects.

      Key words

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      Biography

      Kimberley Wallaker is Registered Nurse, Children's Emergency Services, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI.

      Biography

      Ezio Fortuna is Registered Nurse, Children's Emergency Services, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI.

      Biography

      Stuart Bradin is Attending Physician, Children's Emergency Services, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI.

      Biography

      Michelle Macy is Attending Physician, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI.

      Biography

      Michelle Hassan is Registered Nurse, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI.

      Biography

      Rachel Stanley is Attending Physician, Children's Emergency Services, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI.