One important aspect of a colonoscopy is to ensure that the bowel is properly prepared for the procedure. This process, depending on the medical practitioner, may start anywhere between four and three days prior to the procedure. A big part of this bowel prep is all about the patient’s diet leading up to the colonoscopy.
What is Colonoscopy?
This is a medical procedure where a long, flexible tube, called a colonoscope is inserted through the anus and used to view the inside of the colon. This helps identify polyps and colon cancer in its early stages. The procedure is also used for a number of other medical reasons, such as:
• Consistent abdominal pain
• Major changes in bowel action
• Acute weight loss
• Bleeding from the rectum
During the procedure the doctor may remove suspicious tissue. Pain medication and a sedative are sometimes given prior to a colonoscopy to minimize discomfort.
What to Eat or What Not to Eat
Up to four or three days before the procedure you should be making changes to your diet. Getting your bowels ready beforehand as outlined below ensures that your bowels will be empty on D-Day. The preparation over the four-day period is as follows:
Four Days Leading Up to the Procedure
Discontinue taking any form of iron supplements. Begin reducing or totally eliminating fiber from the diet. The recommended food items at this time include:
• Boiled chicken without skin
• Steamed white fish
• Skinless potatoes, and
• White bread
Some sources recommend that all solid food be stopped two days before the procedure to ensure totally empty bowels.
The following should be avoided since they contain lots of fiber:
• Vegetables, and
• Red meat
While drinking lots of fluid is recommended, this should not include milk or any milk-based drinks. In addition, colored beverages, especially those with red or purple coloring should also be avoided.
A light breakfast is the only meal allowed on the day before the procedure. This type of meal could be a boiled egg and a slice of white bread. On the day before the procedure the following fluids are ok:
• Plain tea or coffee
• Plain, fat-free broth
• Strained fruit juices
• Apple juice
• Sports drinks such as Lucozade and Gatorade
To prevent dehydration it is recommended that fluids be had every hour if possible. Dehydration can occur due to laxatives given to clear the bowels completely. The emptying process is aided by drinking special solutions provided by the doctor, including Fleet® Phosphosoda and Go-Lytely®.
D-Day: Colonoscopy Time
In general only clear fluid should be had on the day of the colonoscopy. Nothing should be taken between 2 to 3 hours before the procedure.
Why Prepare the Bowel Before Colonoscopy
It is important that you follow the diet instructions clearly to ensure that the endoscope has free passage and can get a clear picture of your colon. A colonoscopy cannot be done unless the bowel is empty.
It is important to remember that with all medical procedures complications can occur. These are generally mild, but can also be serious such as punctures to the large intestine. Luckily, complications are rare. It is also good to know that sometimes, other potential problems in the colon can be detected during a colonoscopy.
Make sure that you have someone to take you home after the procedure as you will not be in a position to drive yourself. This is due to a combination the sedative and discomfort.
NB: Your doctor should be informed of any medication you take and if you have allergic reactions to material such as plastic or latex.
March 20th, 2009
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