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Updated on November 7, 2008


Drugs given through the rectum are suppositories or retention enemas. They are inserted into the rectum and the patient is asked to try and retain them. The drug is ab­sorbed slowly and the effect lasts for several hours.

A. Giving a Suppository

A suppository is cone-shaped and contains a drug that causes the bowel to empty itself. Because it is made of a substance that melts at body temperature, it melts when placed in the rectum, but will also melt in the hands If held for too long.

Start by washing your hands and tell the patient what is to happen. See that he or she has urinated before you begin. Help the patient to He on the left side and draw up the knees. Ask him or her to relax by breathing deeply In and out through the mouth. Remove the foil from the suppository and put on a rubber glove. Dip the suppository In warm water before inserting it gently into the rectum and pushing It up as far as possible. If two have been ordered, insert the second in the same way. Remove the glove and place it in a paper bag before burning it or putting It in the trash can. Wash your hands.

Encourage the patient to retain the suppository for as long as possible before using the commode or bed­pan. After a bowel action has taken place report on the stool, noting its color, size, and consistency.

B. Giving an Enema

An enema is an injection of fluid into the rectum usually given with the intention of stimulating a bowel movement. A disposable enema has the fluid contained in a small plastic bag and a rectal nozzle attached ready for use. Before use, it should be warmed.

Start by washing your hands. Tell the patient what is to happen. Help the patient to lie on the left side with the knees drawn up. See to it that the patient is ad­equately covered and place a paper towel on a piece of plastic under the buttocks to protect the bed. Ask the patient to relax by breathing in and out through the mouth. Break off the tip of the nozzle and smear the nozzle with petroleum Jelly. Insert It gently Into the rectum 3-4 Inches deep, taking care not to damage the rectal wall. Gently squeeze the bag. Thus injecting fluid into the rectum. Withdraw the nozzle into a paper or bathroom tissue or kitchen paper.

Encourage the patient to retain the enema as long as possible before using the commode or bedpan. After a bowel action has taken place, report on the stool, noting its color, size, and consistency. Wrap the enema apparatus if disposable in newspaper before burning It. Wash your hands.


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