Administration of a Rectal Enema

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An enema is a liquid preparation of a medication designed for rectal administration. The rectal route for administration of medication is used when the other routes are not appropriate. This route allows for faster absorption of the medication than via the oral route. There is also a reduction in side effects normally associated with oral administration including gastro-intestinal irritation.

The rectal route can be both physically and psychosocially uncomfortable, so there is a need to educate the client on the procedure prior to administration.  Consider alternative forms of communication if there is a possibility that you may not be understood.

This route is used for the administration of:

  • Laxatives for constipation and as a part of a bowel preparation regime
  • Analgesia
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)
  • Antibiotics

Clients who might require this route of administration include those who are:

  • Fasting
  • Receiving palliative care
  • Spinal cord injured
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