What Bowel Preparation Is Needed for a Colonoscopy?


Quick Answer

Bowel preparation involves a gradual reduction in the diet to a day of clear liquids and the administration of a prescription laxative to drive solids out. When the bowel is clear of solids, the doctor can check more thoroughly for polyps, lesions and other anomalies, notes Harvard Medical School.

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Full Answer

Dietary changes begin several days before the procedure. Three or four days beforehand, it's helpful to remove high-fiber foods from the diet. Seeds, nuts, whole grains, dried fruit and raw produce are all foods that people should avoid during this time. The day before the procedure, the patient shouldn't eat any solid foods, instead sticking to clear bouillon or broth, tea, black coffee, and clear juices such as white grape juice. Clear sodas, sports beverages, popsicles and Jell-O are all permitted as well. These restrictions should remain in place until two hours before the procedure, when the patient should stop eating and drinking, advises Harvard Medical School.

Prescription laxative treatments are also part of bowel preparation before a colonoscopy. Some treatments come in one dose the night before the colonoscopy, while others come in two doses, one the night before and the other six hours before the procedure. These treatments either come in liquid or tablet form, according to Harvard Medical School.

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