Patient Resources

Preparations

It is very important that the patient’s colon is clean on the day of their colonoscopy. Any residual material could interfere with a clear view of the colon walls. This could compromise the integrity of the results, potentially leading to a repeat of the procedure.

Each patient needs to prepare, or ‘prep’ their colon for their procedure. Your health care provider will prescribe the appropriate preparation you will need to follow. Please read and follow the directions carefully. If the prep is not done correctly, it will need to be repeated. Remember, the success of your colonoscopy depends on you following the preparation guidelines.

Please follow the directions that have been given to you by your physician. If you have any questions, comments, concerns please call us at 703.281.1023, and ask for the Triage Nurse.

We always have someone on call, day and night to help you with your prep or answer any questions. Please remember to read over your directions before you call the physician’s office.

Questions & Answers

1. CAN I DRINK ANYTHING OTHER THAN WATER WHILE I’M PREPPING FOR MY COLONOSCOPY?

Yes! It is VERY important that you drink a variety of allowed clear liquids to avoid the possibility of becoming dehydrated. Clear liquids include: apple juice, Gatorade, white grape juice, other non-citrus juices without pulp, ginger ale, sprite, Kool-Aid, clear broth, popsicles, hard candies without filling, as well as black coffee or tea without creamer and jello without fruit.

2. CAN I TAKE OTHER MEDICATIONS BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

Yes, unless instructed otherwise by your provider. Generally, you should take prescribed medication as directed, both on the day of your preparation, as well as the day of your procedure. You MUST NOT take blood-thinners for at least 4-7 days prior to the procedure. These include Coumadin, Plavix, Xarelto, vitamin E, ibuprofen, and other NSAID’s. If you are on any of these medications, please let us know in advance. Aspirin can usually be continued.

3. DO I NEED ANTIBIOTICS BEFORE THE PROCEDURE?

No. In general, most patients do not require antibiotics prior to a procedure. Even patients with artificial knees/hips, mitral valve prolapse (MVP), pacemakers, and artificial heart valves DO NOT NEED antibiotics.

4. HOW LONG WILL THE COLONOSCOPY TAKE?

The entire procedure usually takes 30 minutes or less. You should plan to be at the facility for approximately 2 hours. The exact amount of time varies from patient to patient, depending on the amount of sedation used, and how you feel following the procedure.

5. I ACCIDENTALLY TOOK IBUPROFEN/NSAID’S OR ASPIRIN. WILL MY PROCEDURE NEED TO BE RESCHEDULED?

Usually, No, but call your doctor to be sure. These medications thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding.

6. I AM A DIABETIC. WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT MY DIABETES MEDICATION

You should take HALF the usual dose of your diabetes medications on the day of your prep. Do not take any diabetes medications on the day of your procedure. You can take them AFTER your procedure when you are ready to eat again. If you have any questions or concerns, call the physician who manages your diabetes medications. They will be able to adjust your regimen accordingly.

7. WHY CAN’T I DRINK OR CONSUME ANYTHING RED OR PURPLE DURING MY CLEAR LIQUID DIET?

When you consume anything Red or Purple, such as jello, it can stain the colon or appear to be blood. To help ensure an accurate exam, these liquids should be avoided.

8. WHY CAN’T I DRIVE MYSELF HOME AFTER MY PROCEDURE

Due to the sedation administered during your procedure, you are considered legally impaired. The sedation impairs your judgement and reflexes. You will not be permitted to drive for 24 hours following your procedure.

9. CAN I TAKE A BUS OR TAXI HOME AFTER MY PROCEDURE?

No, unless you are accompanied by a trusted person who will take you home and stay with you until the next day. This is due to the sedation administered during your procedure (see #8).

10. I ALREADY HAVE DIARRHEA BEFORE STARTING MY PREP. DO I STILL HAVE TO DRINK THE FULL PREP?

Yes. You must follow the preparation instructions given to you. Your colon is approximately 5 feet long and must be completely emptied to help ensure an accurate and thorough exam. If the colon prep is not adequate, the doctor can miss polyps or other important things in your colon. If the prep is deemed inadequate, you may need to be rescheduled.

11. I AM VERY THIN. DO I STILL NEED TO DRINK THE FULL PREP?

See #10.

12. I SEEM TO BE ALL CLEANED OUT BUT I HAVEN’T FINISHED THE FULL PREP. DO I HAVE TO FINISH IT?

See #10.

13. I FEEL NAUSEOUS WHILE DRINKING THE PREP. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

You can take a short break from drinking the prep. Try drinking ginger ale or another clear liquid or sucking on candy to help settle your stomach. Continue your prep when the feeling has subsided. If this does not help, call our office for further instructions.

14. CAN I USE CREAMS DURING MY PREP TO AVOID ANAL IRRITATION?

Yes. You may apply Desitin, A & D ointment, Vaseline, or any other cream during the prep.

15. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO COMPLETE MY BOWEL PREP?

The entire prep can take approximately 4 to 8 hours. You should plan to be near a restroom during this period.

16. I STARTED MY PREP AND HAVEN’T HAD A BOWEL MOVEMENT YET. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Some patients have a bowel movement immediately after starting the prep, and others wait at least 2 hours. Continue drinking clear liquids and following your prep instructions. Patients with a history of chronic constipation may need more prep than usual to clean out their colon. If your stool is not clear yellow when finished, call us for further instructions.

17. I FINISHED THE PREP AND HAVE HAD SEVERAL BOWEL MOVEMENTS BUT I’M STILL NOT CLEANED OUT. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Continue drinking lots of clear liquids. If the stool still does not turn clear yellow, you will need to call us for further instructions.

18. CAN I CHEW GUM DURING MY PREP?

Yes.

19. CAN I HAVE SUGAR IN MY COFFEE/TEA DURING MY CLEAR LIQUID DIET?

Yes. You may use sugar or sugar substitutes in your drinks during your clear liquid diet.

20. CAN I HAVE CREAM IN MY COFFEE/TEA?

No. Avoid all dairy products including milk, cream, and powdered creamer.

21. CAN I DRINK ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES DURING THE PREP

No. Alcoholic beverages can cause dehydration. Do not drink alcoholic beverages during your clear liquid diet.

22. CAN I SMOKE DURING THE PREP?

Yes.

23. CAN I BRUSH MY TEETH THE MORNING OF MY PROCEDURE?

Yes.

24. CAN I TAKE MY ANTIANXIETY MEDICATION THE MORNING OF MY PROCEDURE

Yes, you may take your antianxiety medication with the smallest sip of water possible.

25. CAN I HAVE SOUP DURING MY CLEAR LIQUID DIET?

You can only have broth. You may not have noodles, meat, or vegetables.

26. CAN I HAVE MY PROCEDURE IF I AM ON MY MENSTRUAL PERIOD

Yes.

27. WILL THE PROCEDURE HURT?

You will be given sedation during the procedure to help you stay comfortable. You may experience some mild cramping and discomfort briefly after the exam.

28. WILL I BE ASLEEP DURING THE PROCEDURE?

The goal of the sedation given during the procedure is to make you drowsy and keep you comfortable but still be slightly awake so you can breathe on your own and roll over if needed.

29. WHEN CAN I EAT AFTER MY PROCEDURE

Generally, you can eat immediately after your procedure. Occasionally, there is mild nausea from the sedative. You may not have a full appetite until the following day.

30. AFTER THE PROCEDURE, WHEN WILL I HAVE A NORMAL BOWEL MOVEMENT

Because your intestines were completely cleaned out for your colonoscopy, it may take a couple of days of eating solid foods before you have a bowel movement.

31. I AM HAVING A LOT OF PAIN AND DISCOMFORT AFTER MY PROCEDURE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

You may call our office to speak to one of our triage nurses or a physician. If you are having severe pain, you should go to the emergency room.

32. CAN I GO BACK TO WORK AFTER MY PROCEDURE

Due to the sedation administered during the procedure, you should plan to rest at home for the remainder of the day. You may resume your usual activities 24 hours after your procedure.

33. HOW CAN I BE SURE I GET THE BEST QUALITY EXAM?

Following your prep instructions carefully and getting your colon cleaned out thoroughly is vital to the quality of your exam.