Doctors prescribe enemas to clean a patient's bowels, treat different conditions such as constipation and intestinal parasites, and also administer certain prescription drugs used for direct treatment of the colon and rectum. Throughout history, different syringes were developed to make the enema process safer, more efficient and more comfortable for both hospital and at-home use.
First developed by the physician, Avicenna, in the early 11th century, the enema syringe, or clyster syringe, reached a peak of popularity in the 17th century. It features a plunger, or piston, that when pushed, inserts the enema fluid. Different size nozzles were easily unscrewed and replaced, according to different procedures and needs. The clyster syringe fell out of use with the development of bulb syringes and enema bags, which made the transfer of fluid more uniform and safe.
Different sizes of rubber bulb syringes provide enema options for children and adults. These syringes facilitate at-home use and require the patient or administrator to squeeze the bulb to dispense the fluid. Disposable bulb syringes are often pre-lubricated, but multi-use bulb syringes are also available.
Not only can an enema bag and tube dispense more fluid than the bulb syringe, but is also protects from administering air along with fluid, a common problem with the bulb syringe. Enema bags for home use, also known as a fountain syringe, are often made of rubber and are reusable, while hospitals can use standard, disposable, plastic fluid bags. A clamp on the tube can quickly stop the process if the patient feels discomfort and cramping.
Pre-filled enema syringes, such as a Fleet Enema, offer enema solutions in a disposable plastic bottle. The tip of the bottle is usually pre-lubricated making it easier to insert. Pre-filled enemas are for one-time use; the plastic enema syringe is disposable.