AIM: To assess the efficacy of polyethylene glycol solution as an oral contrast agent in a patient population.MATERIAL AND METHODS: Patients were fasted from 12.00 am. Administration of the oral contrast medium commenced 15 min before imaging and comprised one sachet of Norgine (Klean-prep, Middlesex, UK) reconstituted in 1 1 water of which the patient took between 500-750 ml. Norgine is a balanced mixture of polyethylene glycol and electrolytes, which when added to water produces a clear colourless, iso-osmotic solution.RESULTS: In total 38 candidates were identified retrospectively covering a 2-year period. Visualization of the jejunum, ileal. Loops and ileocaecal region was excellent or sufficient in 87, 95 and 89%, respectively. The time taken to obtain complete visualization of the small bowel, from the jejunum to the ileocecal region varied from 15-240 min with an average time of 65 min and 73.7% of patients necessitating delayed imaging.CONCLUSIONS: Polyethylene glycol was demonstrated to be an excellent oral contrast medium in distending the small bowel. However, small bowel transit times were significantly delayed and problematic necessitating repeated imaging within the patient population. As result of theses findings longer examination time should be expected within a patient population and this should be borne in mind when scheduling patients. (c) 2006 The Royal College of Radiologists. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.