Colonoscopy is a procedure that utilizes a flexible tube with light and camera at the end to look at the inner lining of a person’s large intestine (colon). It can be used to diagnose and treat diseases of the colon. It is the gold standard for screening for colorectal cancer because it is the only test that gives us the ability to remove precancerous polyps. Colon cancer usually grow from colon polyps.
People hate colonoscopy for all kinds of reasons. Most people are not bothered by colonoscopy itself but the prep is unpleasant for many. You should do away with all the myths about bowel prep, colonoscopy and colon cancer.
What is the best way to prep for colonoscopy?
Discuss all your medications and health conditions with your provider
Know what medications to adjust or stop prior to your colonoscopy. Medications such as those for diabetes and high blood pressure may affect your stability for the procedure. Blood thinners may cause you to bleed during or after colonoscopy. Read medications and food to stop before colonoscopy. If your are diabetic and on insulin, special instructions are needed.
Schedule an appointment for your colonoscopy
Pick a date and time that is suitable for you. If you’re diabetic, pick an early appointment. Be sure to take the day off from work. Do not schedule another procedure or test after your colonoscopy.
Obtain a prescription for your bowel cleansing agent and go shopping
Several medications are available for bowel cleansing prior to colonoscopy. These include Golytely, Nulytely, Trilyte, Colyte, Osmoprep, Suprep, Moviprep, Miralax-Gatorade, Prepopik, Clenpiq, Plenvu. Pick up your bowel cleansing agent. Shop for bowel prep essentials like soft toilet tissue or baby wipes, artificial flavors, menthol candies, straws, and diaper rash cream. Read 10 tips for making colonoscopy preparation more tolerable.
Arrange for an adult to take you home from your colonoscopy
Make sure you have a responsible adult to take you home from your procedure. Most people require sedation for colonoscopy. Even though you’re recovered at the surgery center and you’re awake, driving is not recommended.
Follow the diet instructions given to you by your physician
Diet instructions differ based on your health conditions and risk for inadequate bowel preparation. In general, you should be on a low fiber diet 3 days before your colonoscopy. Most people are placed on a clear liquid diet a day before their colonoscopy.
Use the bowel cleansing agents as instructed
There are 3 ways to take your bowel cleansing agent: the day-before regimen, the split-dose regimen, and the same-day regimen.
In the day before regimen, the entire bowel cleansing agent is used the evening before the colonoscopy.
In the split-dose regimen, half the total dose of the bowel cleansing agent is used the evening before your colonoscopy and the 2nd half is used 4-5 hours before your colonoscopy. Split dosing leads to better colon cleansing and improved detection of polyps.
In the same-day regimen, the bowel cleansing agent is used in the morning of the colonoscopy. This can only be used for patients scheduled for afternoon colonoscopy.
Regardless of the regimen given to you by your physician, be sure to finish the entire bowel cleansing agent.
Drink plenty of fluids
Most people don’t do this enough. You need to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Fluids also help with your bowel cleansing by softening your stools and moving things along. Not drinking enough fluids may cause electrolyte imbalance and kidney failure.
Check your bowel readiness for colonoscopy
How can you tell if your colon is clean and ready for colonoscopy? Your last rectal effluent (stool after finishing your bowel prep agent) can act as a guide. Your stool should be clear, yellow, light and liquid. The presence of dark particles or thick brown or black stool means you are not ready for colonoscopy.
If your stool is not clear after taking your entire bowel prep agent, you may need additional prep agent. Therefore, contact your physician if your stool is still brown or has dark particles hours after finishing your bowel cleansing agent.
Wear comfortable clothes for your colonoscopy appointment
Your colonoscopy is not the time to dress formally or wear your Sunday best. Wear loose fitting and comfortable clothes. Avoid tight fitting garments, girdles, and pantyhose. You will change to a gown given by the hospital or surgery center. Leave your expensive jewelries at home. Do not bring any valuables to your colonoscopy.
Show up on time for your scheduled colonoscopy
Do not arrive late for your procedure. Arrive at the time you’re instructed to come. This may be 30 minutes to 1 hour before your actual procedure. Time is needed to get you ready for the procedure. You need to have an IV line inserted. There are forms to be signed and you need to change to a gown for the procedure.
Don’t be a poor prep and Good luck!