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[Treating poisoning; how do you choose the best type of gastrointestinal decontamination?]

- A new guideline: 'Intoxication: initial approach in the hospital' will be published this year. This guideline sets out the latest insights on gastrointestinal decontamination in intoxication; the advice is summarized in a flowchart.- The advice is to generally administer activated charcoal, unless there are indications that the toxin will not bind to activated charcoal or that the amount of toxin that the patient has ingested is too great; in these cases gastric lavage can be considered.- Activated charcoal can be administered up to 2 hours after the ingestion of a toxic substance, unless there are contra-indications. Multiple-dose activated charcoal in combination with a laxative can be administered in cases of overdose with toxins that use the enterohepatic circulation (such as theophylline, carbamazepine, quinine, dapsone and phenobarbital).- Gastric lavage should be limited to extremely serious intoxication, when the substance has been ingested less than 1-2 hours previously.- Whole-bowel irrigation should not be performed routinely but should be limited to ingestion of toxins with sustained release or enteric coating, or for toxins that do not bind to activated charcoal.

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