Bowel Preparation

The intent of the bowel preparation for colonoscopy is to remove all debris and stool from the colon so that your physician can have the clearest possible view of the colon. Any stool left in the colon will hinder your doctor’s ability to see small polyps and may lead to the need to repeat the exam at an earlier date. There are two parts to any type of preparation, dietary changes and laxatives.

Dietary changes involve the removal of all solid food for about 24 hours before your scheduled exam. During this time you are encouraged to drink as much clear fluids as possible to help hydrate yourself and flush out the colon. At least 8 glasses of clear fluid should be taken, which can include water, broth, coffee, tea, juice, soda, ice pops, jello and fruit juices. No red fluid should be taken. There should be no pulp or sediment in the liquids. A small amount of milk added to your coffee or tea is allowed.

The second aspect to the bowel preparation is a laxative. There are multiple options of laxative types. Miralax laxative is a colorless powder that can be dissolved into any fluid without leaving any taste or grit. Citrate of Magnesia is salt solution which can be diluted with other liquid to make it more palatable. Flavored buffered solutions like Golytely can also be utilized by prescription. Lastly the pill prep Osmo-prep can be taken in select individuals without any history of high blood pressure, kidney disease or seizures.

The timing of your preparation will vary with your scheduled arrival time. For procedures scheduled before noon you will begin your preparation when you awaken in the morning the day before your exam, starting your liquid diet with breakfast and taking the first dose of laxative about 10 am. For those patient with a procedure scheduled after 1 pm you may have what is called a split dose prep. This allows you to have a solid breakfast and start your liquids at lunch time. You will begin the laxative component of your preparation at 5 pm the day before the exam and you will awaken early on the day of you procedure to complete the second half of your laxative preparation.

Finally, because you will be receiving anesthesia for your examination, your stomach must be empty of all fluid and food for at least six hours prior to the exam. Those patient with a morning scheduled procedure are not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the exam. Those with procedures scheduled after 1 pm, are not to drink or eat anything after completing their morning laxative.

Our office staff, nurses and physician are here to provide support for you to aide in your preparation. It is also very helpful if you read all your directions thoroughly. Please see our web site links to your chosen preparation type. Some medications may be held for up to a week before your procedure and some preps need to be prepared the night before so look at your direction before your scheduled date. You can also expect a call from one of our nurses to review your instructions about a week before your scheduled exam. And finally realize that all though the preparation is not always the easiest part of the examination it is one of the most important and we are here to help you succeed.