Adverse effects of activated charcoal used for the treatment of poisoning

  title={Adverse effects of activated charcoal used for the treatment of poisoning},
  author={Zeshan Qureshi and Michael Eddleston},
  journal={Adverse Drug Reaction Bulletin},
The incidence of adverse effects of activated charcoal in poisoned patients is unclear. We performed a search of PubMed, EMBASE, and Ovid to identify large cohorts, and both randomized and pseudorandomized controlled trials, finding nine articles. The most commonly described adverse events were vomiting, aspiration, and intubation. Activated charcoal did not increase the incidence of these adverse effects. Other adverse events such as bowel obstruction, corneal abrasions, electrolyte… 
2 Citations

A rare case of small bowel obstruction secondary to activated charcoal administration

Clinicians should be aware of the rare occurrence of gastrointestinal complication or obstruction following the administration of multiple-dose activated charcoal, especially in patients who ingested a drug that is potentially antiperistaltic.

First aid interventions by laypeople for acute oral poisoning.

The collected evidence was mostly of low to very low certainty, often downgraded for indirectness, risk of bias or imprecision due to low numbers of events.



A randomized clinical trial of activated charcoal for the routine management of oral drug overdose.

Routine administration of charcoal following oral overdose did not significantly influence length of stay or other patient outcomes following oral drug overdose, and this does not exclude a role in patients who present shortly after ingestion of highly lethal drugs.

The frequency of complications associated with the use of multiple-dose activated charcoal.

Clinically significant complications associated with the use of multiple-dose activated charcoal occur infrequently and are judged to have had clinically significant pulmonary aspiration and gastrointestinal obstruction.

Gastrointestinal clearance of drugs with activated charcoal.

  • G. Levy
  • Medicine
    The New England journal of medicine
  • 1982
The mainstays of caring for patients who have swallowed poison or been given an overdose of drugs are inhibition of absorption or specific treatment (if an...

Adverse effects of superactivated charcoal administered to healthy volunteers.

Superactivated charcoal consumption is associated with significant adverse effects in some healthy volunteers, which may impede a drug overdose patient's ability to willingly drink charcoal slurry in a reasonable period of time.