Day-to-Day Care


Home Treatment:  Rectal Suppository


Rectal suppository is a conical shaped medicine made of substances that will melt when inserted into the rectum.  The medicine is slowly absorbed through the rectum as the suppository dissolves against its warm mucous membrane.


Suppository is prescribed when a person is unable to take medicine by mouth.  It is also used when a direct effect on the large intestine or faeces is desired, as with constipation.


Giving a Rectal Suppository


Give enough privacy as the insertion of suppository can be unpleasant and embarrassing for the person.


Explain to the person what you are about to do to reduce anxiety and gain cooperation.


If the person has difficulty going to toilet, have a bedpan or commode ready near his bed.


Wash your hands before the procedure.


Place paper towels or incontinence sheet underneath the person's buttock to prevent the bed sheet from getting soiled.


Ask the person to lie on one side with upper leg drawn up toward his abdomen.  This position exposes the anus and helps the person to relax his external anal sphincter muscle.  Lying left lateral is preferred because of the anatomical position of the rectum and colon.


Keep the person covered with a blanket or sheet, exposing only his anal area, to avoid embarrassment and to give him warmth.


Put on glove or finger stall.  A finger stall should go on your index finger.


Remove suppository from the wrapper and rub it with your fingers to make it smoother and to warm up the surface.  (If the suppository is soft, place in the refrigerator for a few minutes to harden it before removing the wrapper.)


Lubricate the gloved finger with a water-soluble lubricant such as K-Y Jelly to make insertion easier.


Retract the person’s buttocks with your non-dominant hand.  With the gloved index finger, insert the suppository gently about 3cm to 5cm (for adults) into the rectum.  To be effective, the suppository must be placed along the wall of the rectum rather than into fecal matter.


Ask the person to take slow deep breaths through his mouth during the insertion so as to relax his anal sphincter muscle.


Allow a few seconds to elapse before withdrawing the finger slowly to prevent expulsion of the suppository from the rectum.


Wipe away excess lubricant at the anal area to provide comfort.


Advise the person to remain flat or on his side in bed for 5 minutes to prevent expulsion of suppository.


Instruct the person to hold his bowel action for 30 minutes.  It is normal to have immediate urge to defecate due to anal dilatation during insertion.  However, time is required for the medication to be dissolved and absorbed for desired action.


Wash your hands after the procedure.


Follow-up the result and document.





► Back to Nursing Manual Table of Contents