Abdominal pain is one of the most common reasons why people seek medical care, and is often due to spasm of intra-abdominal visceral organs. Hyoscine butylbromide (HBB) is a quaternary ammonium compound which blocks the action of acetylcholine at parasympathetic sites (both muscarinic and nicotinic receptors) in smooth muscle, and in secretory glands. It causes decreased motility of the gastrointestinal tract and the urogenital tracts, and is useful in the treatment of spasms in these regions. Side effects are common, but tend to be minor and self limiting. Evidence exists to support its use in the management of non-specific colicky abdominal pain (in adults and children); irritable bowel syndrome; labor and delivery; dysmenorrhea; as an adjunct in the therapy of late stage cancer patients with inoperable bowel malignancies; and to facilitate improved resolution in certain imaging techniques. It may also be useful in certain procedures, such as colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy, and may be useful in the management of renal colic (although NSAIDs seem clinically superior). The role of HBB in the management of esophageal food obstruction is unclear at this time; further studies need to be done.
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