UK Clinical Pharmacy Association

Docusate sodium

Issues for surgery

Risk of constipation if omitted, particularly in patients with chronic laxative use, which may further be exacerbated by medication administered perioperatively, e.g. opioids.

Advice in the perioperative period

Elective surgery 

Continue, if required.


  • for patients having bowel cleansing preparations prior to surgery – stop when bowel preparation starts.

Pre-operative use as adjunct before abdominal radiological procedures

Docusate may be prescribed as a stat dose, either orally or rectally, prior to abdominal radiological procedures – see British National Formulary for further information.

Emergency surgery 

Continue, if required.


  • for patients with suspected bowel obstruction or perforation.

Post-operative advice

Resume post-operatively, if needed, once enteral intake resumed.

If concomitant use of opioids or other medication that may cause constipation, or antibiotics that may cause diarrhoea, monitor response to treatment and adjust dose accordingly.

Review if patient develops reduced gastrointestinal motility (e.g. ileus) post-operatively.

Patients undergoing colorectal surgery

Review the need for docusate sodium post-operatively.

Interactions with common anaesthetic agents


Interactions with other common medicines used in the perioperative period


Further information

None relevant.


Baxter K, Preston CL (eds), Stockley’s Drug Interactions (online) London: Pharmaceutical Press. [Accessed on 24 March 2024]

Docusate Sodium. In: Brayfield A (Ed), Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference. London: The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. [Accessed on 24 April 2024]

Joint Formulary Committee. British National Formulary (online) London: BMJ Group and Pharmaceutical Press [Accessed on 24 March 2024]

Summary of Product Characteristics – Dioctyl® (docusate) 100 mg Capsules. TEOFARMA S.R.L. Accessed via 24/03/2024 [date of revision of the text August 2023]