Position statement: gastric lavage. American Academy of Clinical Toxicology; European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists

J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1997;35(7):711-9. doi: 10.3109/15563659709162568.


In preparing this Position Statement, all relevant scientific literature was identified and reviewed critically by acknowledged experts using agreed criteria. Well-conducted clinical and experimental studies were given precedence over anecdotal case reports and abstracts were not usually considered. A draft Position Statement was then produced and subjected to detailed peer review by an international group of clinical toxicologists chosen by the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology and the European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists. The Position Statement went through multiple drafts before being approved by the boards of the two societies and being endorsed by other societies. The Position Statement includes a summary statement for ease of use and is supported by detailed documentation which describes the scientific evidence on which the Statement is based. Gastric lavage should not be employed routinely in the management of poisoned patients. In experimental studies, the amount of marker removed by gastric lavage was highly variable and diminished with time. There is no certain evidence that its use improves clinical outcome and it may cause significant morbidity. Gastric lavage should not be considered unless a patient has ingested a potentially life-threatening amount of a poison and the procedure can be undertaken within 60 minutes of ingestion. Even then, clinical benefit has not been confirmed in controlled studies. Unless a patient is intubated, gastric lavage is contraindicated if airway protective reflexes are lost. It is also contraindicated if a hydrocarbon with high aspiration potential or corrosive substance has been ingested.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / poisoning
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / poisoning
  • Barbiturates / poisoning
  • Child
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Contraindications
  • Gastric Lavage / adverse effects
  • Gastric Lavage / methods*
  • Humans
  • Poisoning / therapy*
  • Salicylates / poisoning


  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Barbiturates
  • Salicylates
  • Acetaminophen