Treatment of radiation-induced proctitis with sucralfate enemas

Ann Pharmacother. 1999 Dec;33(12):1274-6. doi: 10.1345/aph.19065.


Objective: To report a case of radiation-induced proctitis treated with sucralfate enemas.

Case summary: A 77-year-old white woman was transferred from an acute care institution to our inpatient rehabilitation unit with impaired mobility and reduced activities of daily living. Her condition was secondary to myopathy and peripheral neuropathy associated with postradiation chemotherapy and metastatic ovarian carcinoma. During her stay, she developed hematochezia and pain secondary to a diagnosis of radiation-induced proctitis. Her hemoglobin had reached a nadir of 7.3 g/dL. The patient received blood transfusions and was started on 10% w/v sucralfate retention enemas 2 g/20 mL daily for 12 consecutive days. She was symptom-free at discharge, with a stable hemoglobin of approximately 10 g/dL.

Discussion: Proctitis is a common adverse effect of radiotherapy to the lower abdomen and pelvic area. Sucralfate is an aluminum complex that acts as a local cytoprotective agent against ulceration of the gastrointestinal mucosal lining. Rectal administration of sucralfate, as described in our patient and reported in published case studies, may provide an alternative therapy for patients with radiation-induced proctitis.

Conclusions: Sucralfate suspension enemas provide a viable treatment option in patients who are intolerant of, refractory to, or not candidates for standard therapy for radiation-induced proctitis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Enema
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / administration & dosage
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy
  • Proctitis / drug therapy*
  • Proctitis / etiology
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Sucralfate / administration & dosage
  • Sucralfate / therapeutic use*


  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Sucralfate