Selective gastric decontamination in the poisoned patient

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Gastric decontamination following toxic ingestions or drug overdose can no longer be justified routinely, but remains useful in selected cases. Likewise, the options now include not only induced emesis or lavage, but also activated charcoal in single or repeat doses, cathartics, and whole bowel irrigation. The choice of one or more of these treatments must be made with knowledge of their efficacy and limitations. This article reviews these techniques, and advocates each for use in selected circumstances.

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