Drugs Home > What Is Polyethylene Glycol Electrolyte Solution Used For?

If you have an upcoming gastrointestinal procedure, your healthcare provider may prescribe polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution. This laxative works by drawing water into the colon, softening the stool, and increasing the number of bowel movements. Specifically, polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution is used to empty the bowels before a colonoscopy or a barium enema x-ray exam.

An Overview of Uses for Polyethylene Glycol Electrolyte Solution

Polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution (colyte®, GoLYTELY®, MoviPrep®, NuLYTELY®, TriLyte®) is a prescription laxative medication. It comes in powder form, which is mixed with water just before drinking. This medication is approved to cleanse the bowel prior to a colonoscopy. Some polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution products are also approved to cleanse the bowel before a barium enema x-ray examination.

Using Polyethylene Glycol Electrolyte Solution Before a Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is a common medical procedure used to screen for colon and rectal cancer. It is also done to look for possible causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits.
During a colonoscopy, your healthcare provider will insert a long, flexible, lighted tube (called a colonoscope) into your rectum and slowly guide it into your colon. The colonoscope transmits an image of the inside of the colon so your healthcare provider can carefully examine the lining of the colon.
Your healthcare provider will look for any problems, such as abnormal growths (polyps), ulcers, or inflammation. If polyps are seen, they can be removed during the procedure (see Colonoscopy Procedure for more information about what to expect during a colonoscopy).
It is very important that your healthcare provider can see inside your large intestine or colon during a colonoscopy. Any stool inside the colon may hide important findings. For this reason, the bowels are prepped, or cleaned out, prior to a colonoscopy. Medications like polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution are used to empty the bowels and prepare them for a colonoscopy (see Colonoscopy Prep to learn about other things that are done to prepare for a colonoscopy).
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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