This handout will tell you how to prepare for and what to expect after your gastrointestinal procedure. Please read at least 1 week before your procedure. The procedure may be cancelled if you do not follow instructions.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a test to look at the lower part of your large bowel. This test can be used to find the cause of rectal bleeding or abdominal pain.
1 Week Before Procedure
Arrange for an adult to drive you home. You will not be able to drive or return to work after your procedure. You may take a cab or bus only if you have an adult who can go with you.
Tell us about any major health changes, illnesses, or recent hospital stays.
Blood Thinning Medicines
You may need to stop or adjust your blood thinning medicine before your procedure. Call the doctor who prescribes the medicine to discuss this or we may have to reschedule your visit.
You may need to stop or adjust your diabetes medicine and/or blood sugar testing while you prep. You must call the doctor who prescribes the medicine to discuss this or we may need to reschedule your visit.
Iron and Multivitamins with Iron
Stop taking 5 days before. (You do not need to contact your doctor first).
You will need to buy the bowel prep supplies before the procedure from a local drugstore. You do not need a prescription.
MiraLax (or store brand version) – 4.1-ounce bottle
Gatorade/PowerAde – buy two 32-ounce bottles. Do not buy red or purple colored liquids. (If you are diabetic, buy Pedialyte instead)
In some cases, the doctor may also want you to do an enema as a part of your bowel prep. Do not buy this unless your doctor tells you to. Some patients will have the enema here right before the procedure.
1 Day Before Procedure
You can eat a normal meal for lunch. Stop eating all solid foods by noon. After that, start a clear liquid diet.
Clear Liquid Diet Rules
No creamers, milks or other dairy products
No red or purple
No solid food
Drink at least 8 glasses of clear liquids all day to prevent dehydration
Clear liquids include these “see-through” items:
Water, clear sports drinks like Gatorade®
Black coffee, tea, soda
In the early afternoon, mix the MiraLax® with both bottles of chilled Gatorade. It will be 64 ounces total. If you are diabetic, use Pedialyte.
Start drinking the prep at 6 pm. Drink one 8-ounce glass of the mixture every 15 minutes until gone.
If your stool is still not clear, drink one 8-ounce glass of water every 15 minutes until your stool is clear.
Keep drinking clear liquids so you do not get dehydrated.
Day of Procedure
Follow the clear liquid diet only. No solid foods until after the procedure.
Stop drinking all liquids 4 hours before your procedure.
Your stools should be watery clear or yellow, with no solids (flecks of stool are OK). If you are still passing solid or brown stools, call us at (608) 890-5010.
What to Bring
CPAP or BiPAP and any inhalers that you use
Eyeglass or contact lens case, denture cup
Wear comfortable clothing
Do not bring valuables, money, or jewelry
What to Expect
Your visit will last about 2 -3 hours from the time you check in until the time you can leave.
It is up to you if your driver stays in our waiting room or in your private prep and recovery room where private health information will be discussed.
Before the procedure, the doctor will talk with you, answer questions, and ask you to sign a consent form.
A nurse will place an IV. You will get medicines to help you relax.
After your procedure, your doctor will talk with you about the results and give you a report. We strongly suggest that you have your driver wait in your private room to hear the results with you.
You may feel sleepy when you leave. Plan to spend the day resting at home. You cannot drive or return to work due to the sedation medicines. Most patients can return to their normal routine the next day.
If you have biopsies taken or polyps removed, you can expect to get lab results in 1-2 weeks, either by phone or by mail.
It may take up to a week for your bowel habits to return to your normal.
Tips for a Successful Colon Prep
Plan on each dose taking several hours.
Stay near a bathroom. Stock up on soft toilet paper and things to read.
Drinking the prep through a straw may help improve the taste.
Between glasses, you can chew gum or suck on slices of lime or lemon or hard candies (avoid red or purple candy, as these can stain your colon).
After you mix the prep, we suggest you put it in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge at least 2 hours before you start drinking it, so you won’t feel too cold.
If you get chilled, try putting a blanket in the dryer to warm it up before using.
See website for more information such as a prep video, diet tips, and prep worksheet. www.uwhealth.org/digestivehealth
Who to Call
Digestive Health Center
UW Hospital GI Procedure Clinic
If you need help finding a way to get to and from your visit, contact Patient Resources at 608-821-4144.