Thorough cleansing of the entire bowel is essential for effective results so there will not be a need for retesting. Colonoscopy prep instructions will be given by a gastroenterologist and may include a combination of the following: enemas, restriction from eating solid foods a day or two before the test and taking pill-form and/or liquid laxatives.
Additionally, a patient may be asked to stop taking aspirin or other blood-thinning medications for several days before the test and will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the colonoscopy procedure. To avoid dehydration, patients should drink clear, fat-free bouillon or broth, gelatin, strained fruit juice (no grape juice or any liquid with red color), water, plain and unsweetened coffee or tea, or diet soda.
Unless otherwise instructed, continue taking any regularly-prescribed medication. The gastroenterologist may ask that they to stop taking iron preparations a few weeks before the test if on them. The gastroenterologist will also want to know if the patient has heart disease, lung disease, or any other medical condition that may need special attention.
Finally, each patient will need to arrange for someone to drive them home afterward because lingering, subtle effects of the sedation will make it unsafe for driving until the next day.
Since most patients receive a sedative and are not awake during the actual procedure, it’s the preparation that most people dread. Horror stories about bad-tasting laxatives and the constant trips to the bathroom may be scary, but it’s important to keep the end result in mind. The goal is to empty the colon completely so patients can have a successful and thorough colonoscopy. What could be worse than going through the colonoscopy prep and then, repeating the whole process because the results were inconclusive?
Compared to the three hours that a patient should plan to spend at the center on the day of a colonoscopy, the prep day is much longer. A successful colonoscopy cannot be done without a complete cleansing, so a patient must follow all steps correctly. If a patient is at average risk for colon cancer and their colonoscopy is clear, they will not have to have another colonoscopy for 10 years.
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