Aim: To evaluate the efficacy of peppermint oil in barium as a spasmolytic agent during a double-contrast barium enema (DCBE).
Materials and methods: A total of 383 DCBEs with positive results from occult blood tests were assessed. Patients were assigned to one of four groups: peppermint in barium (n=91), peppermint in tube (n=90), Buscopan (n=105), or no treatment (n=97). After a screening sigmoidoscopy, the DCBEs were performed using air as a distending gas. In the Buscopan group, the DCBE was performed with an intramuscular injection of 20mg Buscopan at the start of the examination. Patients in the no-treatment group underwent DCBE without any spasmolytic agent. A peppermint oil preparation (30ml) was mixed in the barium solution for patients in the peppermint-in-barium group, and the same dose of peppermint oil was included in the enema tube in the peppermint-in-tube group. The presence of spasm on a series of spot films was evaluated without information about the type of spasmolytic agent used.
Results: The percentage of patients in the four groups (no treatment, Buscopan, peppermint in tube, and peppermint in barium) with absence of spasm in the entire colon on the series of spot films was 13.4, 38.1, 41.8, and 37.8%, respectively. In the group using peppermint oil or Buscopan, the rate of patients with non-spasm examination was higher than that in no-treatment group (p<0.0005). Peppermint oil had the same spasmolytic effect as the systemic administration of Buscopan in the transverse and descending colon. Peppermint oil had a stronger effect in the caecum and the ascending colon than a Buscopan injection (p<0.005). There was no advantage to placing peppermint oil in the enema tube over mixing it in the barium solution. A total of 157 polyps were found during the DCBE procedures, and no differences were observed in the number of lesions among the four groups. Peppermint oil did not impair image quality.
Conclusion: Barium solution mixed with peppermint oil was safe and effective for the elimination of colonic spasm during the DCBE procedure, and it could be used instead of Buscopan.