Bowel Preparation for Colonoscopy or Surgery
May 21, 2019
Learning that you need a colonoscopy or surgery can be overwhelming. This is especially the case if you have been experiencing a list of symptoms and are trying to figure out what, exactly, is going on with your health. It’s even worse when you realize that you’ll be put under anesthesia and have medical instruments in one of the most private and sensitive areas of your body.
However, having a colonoscopy is essential to screen for colon cancer, considering that it’s the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. While this statistic is certainly alarming, knowing what to expect during the days leading up to a colonoscopy or colon surgery may calm your nerves a bit.
What Can I Do to Prepare for a Colonoscopy?
If you’ve scheduled a colonoscopy, your doctor will provide you with instructions on what to do in the days leading up to the procedure. Take time to review it as there may be information that pertains specifically to your situation due to your medical history. That being said, there are certain common denominators to preparing for a colonoscopy.
Three days before the colonoscopy
- Limit your intake of high-fiber foods, such as beans, lentils, bananas, oatmeal, nuts, and most fruits and vegetables. Opt for white rice or pasta, tofu, lean meats, and mashed potatoes without the skin. If you want fruit, peel off the skin.
- Do not drink any beverages or eat any candy with red or purple dye, as these may interfere with test results.
- Look for a family member or friend who can go to the appointment with you, since you’ll need someone to drive you back home after the procedure and who can stay with you for several hours afterward.
Two days before the colonoscopy
- Continue eating the same foods you ate three days before the colonoscopy.
- Consider if you can stay home from work or arrange for someone to help care for children or aging parents so that you can try to relax in preparation for the procedure.
The day before the colonoscopy
- Do not eat any solid foods. Stick with clear liquids, such as apple juice, lemonade, or sports drinks with electrolytes. If you want to have coffee, do so, but do not add any cream or milk.
- Stay hydrated. You’ll need to drink at least eight glasses of water.
- A physician will prescribe you something to help empty your bowels (Magnesium Citrate, Suprep, laxatives, etc) before the procedure. Make sure to read and follow the instructions on the box. This is crucial, since empty bowels are essential for accurate colonoscopy results.
- Stay as close to a private bathroom as possible. In other words, stay home. If you share a bathroom, have family members make other arrangements so they can leave this bathroom for your exclusive use. When the urge hits after taking the laxative, you’ll need quick access.
What Can I Do to Prepare for Colon surgery?
When scheduling colon surgery, inform your doctor of all medications you’re taking, since some medications need to be completely out of your system before certain procedures.
Pre-op steps are similar to those for a colonoscopy:
- Eat a low fiber diet.
- Stay hydrated.
- Drink only liquids for 48 hours before surgery. Stop drinking liquids after midnight the night before surgery.
- Take a laxative as instructed by your doctor.
- Arrange for a friend or family member to spend the day of surgery with you.
- Arrange for someone to help you for several days after the surgery.
You will remain hospitalized for several days after surgery. However, you should be up and walking 48 hours after the procedure. You will be encouraged to walk as the exercise will promote blood circulation.
A note to be aware of is that there will be a nasogastric tube going through your nose and into your stomach. This means that the nutrition you’ll receive will be provided intravenously. Once you start passing gas, you’ll be able to slowly start incorporating solid foods back into your diet. Follow your doctor’s orders regarding any dietary restrictions during recovery.
If You Need a Colonoscopy, Let Us Help You.
At Pinnacle Research, we specialize in the exploration of disease. We work with over 70 referring physicians in San Antonio and Austin, providing clinical trials in liver disease.
Contact us to discuss how we can help you.