HF 4755

Rectal Exam Under Anesthesia (No Pouch)

This is an exam done through the rectum while you are asleep under anesthesia.

Bowel Prep 

You will need to empty your bowels before the exam. A few days before your exam, go to the drugstore and buy: 

  • 1 bottle of magnesium citrate and

  • 2 sodium phosphate enemas

The Day Before the Exam 

  • Eat a light breakfast and lunch, avoid greasy foods and red meat. 

  • Drink only clear liquids after lunch until midnight. Clear liquids include:

    • Water

    • Clear broth

    • Juice with no pulp (apple)

    • Hard candy

    • Crystal light®

    • Popsicles

    • Jell-O® homemade from a box only, no fruit in it

    • Sparkling water or soda

    • Coffee or tea, no creamer

    • Gatorade®

    • Ensure® Active Clear

  • At 2 pm drink the whole bottle of magnesium citrate (10 ounces). 

  • You can have clear liquids up to 4 hours before the procedure. No solid foods. 

  • Shower before bed with Hibiclens® soap as instructed by your clinic. 

The Day of the Exam

  1. Give yourself the first enema 1½ hours before you leave home. 

  2. Give yourself the second enema ½ hour later. Shower. 

If your exam is not early in the morning, you do not need to wait to do the enemas. Do them when you wake up in the morning. 

After the Exam

Your care after the exam will depend on the results. You may be able to go back to your normal routine in 1-2 days or you may need to follow more strict guidelines. 

More strict guidelines may include: 

  • Taking off work a few days to a week.

  • Doing your household and outdoor chores ahead of time or making plans for someone to help you for 1-2 weeks.

  • Having someone to help watch your children for 1-2 days. 


  • Wear loose clothes.

  • Activity per your comfort. If it hurts don’t do the activity. 

  • If you had an exam only or minor procedure, you may be able to return to your normal routine in 2 days.

  • You may see your surgeon 1-2 weeks after your exam.

Pain Relief

You may have pain after surgery. Your doctor may order pain pills for you. The pain medicine may be Tylenol®, ibuprofen, or a narcotic. 

Prevent Constipation

Pain pills can cause constipation. A diet high in fiber and water may prevent it. 

  • 8-10 (8 oz.) glasses of fluids a day (no caffeine). 

  • At least 4 servings of fruits or vegetables.

  • At least 2-4 servings of whole grain bread or cereal.

You may use a stool softener (docusate sodium) or a bulk fiber laxative (such as Metamucil®) to prevent constipation. You can buy these over the counter and follow the package directions. 

When to Call the Doctor

  • Problems having a bowel movement. 

  • Temperature by mouth over 100.4° F for two readings taken four hours apart.

  • Pain not relieved by pain pills.

  • Bleeding that does not stop after 10 minutes of applied pressure to the rectal area.

Phone Numbers

Digestive Health Center: (608) 242-2800.

After hours, weekends or holidays this number will be answered by the paging operator. Ask for the doctor on call. Leave your name and phone number with area code. The doctor will call you back.

If you live out of the area, call (855) 342-9900.

If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.