This handout will tell you how to prepare for and what to expect after your colonoscopy.
Please read at least 1 week before your procedure.
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 Medicine
You may need to stop or adjust your blood thinning medicine before your procedure. You must 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 & Multivitamins with Iron
Stop taking 5 days before your procedure. (You do not need to contact your doctor first).
You may need extra prep if you are often constipated or have not had a clean colon for a past procedure. Please call to discuss this in more detail.
3 Days Before Procedure
Low Fiber Diet
Stop these foods and medicines:
Corn, popcorn, seeds or nuts. Uncooked vegetables, beans and lentils, potato skins.
Fruits with skins or seeds.
Whole grain breads, granola or high fiber cereals.
Fiber supplements (like Metamucil®, Citrucel®, or Benefiber®).
Anti-diarrhea medicines (like Kaopectate®, Lomotil®, Pepto-Bismol® and Imodium® or loperamide).
See website for tips of what you can eat.
Pick up Bowel Prep
Call your pharmacy to let them know you will be picking up your bowel prep. Please pick up your bowel prep 3 days before your procedure. Do not mix until the day before the procedure.
1 Day Before Procedure
Mix the Prep
Mix as instructed on the jug and put it in the fridge. Follow the steps in this handout for drinking the prep, not the directions on the jug.
Clear Liquid Diet
If your arrival time is before 11 am, stop eating solid food and begin clear liquid diet at 10 am 1 day prior to procedure.
If your arrival time is after 11:30 am, stop eating solid food and begin clear liquid diet at 2 pm 1 day prior to procedure.
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
Take your daily medicines today, except those you were told to stop. Take your medicines at least one hour before or one hour after drinking your prep.
If your arrival time is before 11 am, drink 3/4 of the jug (12 cups) starting between 4 pm and 6 pm.
If your arrival time is after 11:30 am, drink 1/2 of the jug (8 cups) starting between 6 pm and 8 pm.
Drink about 1 cup (1 cup = 8 oz.) every 10-20 minutes.
You may have bloating and/or nausea. You will have loose, then liquid, stools. This is normal. If you have a great deal of nausea or vomiting, slow down or stop for 30 minutes. Then start again. If your bowels do not begin to empty after several hours, or you have severe cramping, feel dizzy, or lightheaded, call us at (608) 890-5010.
Stay on only clear liquids (no red or purple)
Stop drinking everything, even water*, 4 hours before you arrive.
Begin drinking the rest of the bowel prep 6 hours before you arrive.
*You may have no more than ½ cup (4 ounces) water with medicines at least 1 hour before you arrive.
As you finish the prep, 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 medical 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 and keep you comfortable.
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 will 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 1-2 weeks after your procedure, 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.
If you don’t like the taste of the prep, you may add yellow lemonade Crystal Light® to the mixture. We suggest mixing it into 1 glass at a time.
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
If you need help finding a way to get to and from your visit, contact Patient Resources at (608)821-4144
Digestive Health Center
UW Hospital GI Procedure Clinic
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.