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Visicol, otherwise known as an oral sodium phosphate, is a saline laxative used in the process of bowel cleansing before medical procedures. Unfortunately, there have been increasing reports of acute phosphate nephropathy, a serious kidney complication, in patients who have used oral sodium phosphates.

Visicol Overview

Visicol was introduced to the U.S. market as an oral sodium phosphate whose use was limited to bowel cleansing in preparations for gastroenterological procedures. However, mounting empirical evidence suggests that Visicol may be responsible for serious kidney complications in patients. Many of which resulted in permanent kidney damage or long-term dialysis.

On December 11, 2008 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the strongest safety warning available to oral phosphate drugs that are used before colonoscopies, following reports of kidney damage (acute phosphate nephropathy) in several patients. These drugs include Visicol, OsmoPrep, and Fleet Phospho-Soda. According to an FDA press release :

“There have been rare, but serious reports of acute phosphate nephropathy in patients who received oral sodium phosphate products for colon cleansing prior to colonoscopy. Some cases have resulted in permanent impairment of renal function, and some patients required long-term dialysis. While some cases have occurred in patients without identifiable risk factors, patients at increased risk of acute phosphate nephropathy may include those with increased age, hypovolemia, increased bowel transit time (such as bowel obstruction), active colitis, or baseline kidney disease, and those using medicines that affect renal perfusion or function (such as diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme [ACE] inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers [ARBs], and possibly nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs [NSAIDs]).”

Side Effects of Visicol

There have been reports of acute phosphate nephropathy, a serious kidney complication, in patients who used oral sodium phosphates like Visicol. This severe, life-threatening complication is characterized by the buildup of calcium-phosphate crystals that can permanently damage proper kidney functions.


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