Safety of sodium phosphate tablets in patients receiving propofol-based sedation for colonoscopy

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2004 May-Jun;38(5):425-8. doi: 10.1097/00004836-200405000-00007.


Goals: To compare the incidence of peri-procedure adverse events in patients undergoing colon cleansing with sodium phosphate tablets or polyethylene glycol solution prior to colonoscopy with propofol-based sedation.

Background: Propofol is a rapidly acting hypnotic sedative general anesthetic agent increasingly being used for colonoscopy. Although traditionally patients fast overnight prior to a general anesthetic, a new Food and Drug Administration-approved sodium phosphate tablet purgative requires ingestion of 20 tablets with 56 ounces of clear liquid 3 to 5 hours prior to colonoscopy.

Study: We retrospectively reviewed 97 outpatients who received propofol-based sedation for colonoscopy. This was a subset of a randomized, investigator-blinded, multicenter trial comparing sodium phosphate tablets with polyethylene glycol. Study data and anesthesia records were reviewed for peri-procedure hemodynamic, cardiac, and pulmonary adverse events as well as the need for hospital admission.

Results: There were no statistically significant differences between the 2 groups when analyzed for the development of tachycardia, decrease in mean arterial pressure below 50 mmHg, or a reduction in the mean arterial pressure greater than 30% from the pre-procedure value. No patients in either group experienced hypoxia (oxygen saturation < 90%), excessive regurgitation, pneumonia, or hospital admission.

Conclusions: Peri-procedure adverse events occurred rarely and with no increased frequency in patients using the sodium phosphate tablet purgative and receiving propofol-based sedation. The sodium phosphate tablet purgative is safe for patients receiving propofol-based sedation for colonoscopy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cathartics / adverse effects
  • Cathartics / pharmacology*
  • Cathartics / therapeutic use
  • Colonoscopy*
  • Conscious Sedation / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacology*
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphates / adverse effects
  • Phosphates / pharmacology*
  • Phosphates / therapeutic use
  • Propofol / adverse effects
  • Propofol / pharmacology*
  • Propofol / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Tablets
  • Tachycardia / chemically induced
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cathartics
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Phosphates
  • Tablets
  • sodium phosphate
  • Propofol