For patients undergoing a colonoscopy or certain types of surgery, it is essential that the colon (bowel) be thoroughly cleaned and emptied of all solid matter (poo). Cleansing the colon is called bowel preparation, or bowel prep.
The goal of bowel preparation is to empty and clean the bowel for
a diagnostic procedure (such as a colonoscopy) or for surgery (such as removal of polyps, cancer, or narrowing of the intestinal diameter).
A good bowel preparation allows the doctor to clearly see the lining of the bowel and thoroughly examine the colon. The procedure is then more likely to be accurate and complete.
If the bowel is not completely clean and empty the procedure may need to be postponed or repeated. Potential complications may also occur or potential cancer lesions could be missed.
In general you can expect to:
- Modify your diet
Your doctor may recommend a low residue or fibre-free diet one or two days before the procedure. You may be asked to follow a clear liquid diet including vegetable or beef broth, black tea and coffee, clear fruit juices (the ones you can see through, i.e. apple or white grape juice) and soda water.
- Take a laxative or bowel preparation medication
As the laxatives do their job, you’ll start spending a lot of time on the toilet. This medication causes diarrhoea and empties the colon. The medication is taken by mouth and comes as liquid, powder
or tablets, depending on which preparation your doctor has prescribed.
- Increase your fluid intake
Drink additional glasses of water to prevent dehydration.