Colorectal Cancer: How Do I Prepare for a Colonoscopy?
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. It is one of only a few cancers that can be prevented through screening. Visit the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable Web site to learn more.
How do I prepare for a colonoscopy?
The most important part in preparing for a colonoscopy is the bowel cleansing preparation. It is vital to have the colon completely clear of any feces prior to the examination of the colon with the colonoscope.
It is often suggested and recommended to follow a clear liquid diet one day prior to the procedure and then closely follow the instructions provided by your physician’s office. The bowel cleansing preparation is given in what is called a “split dose” regimen; meaning half the cleansing preparation will be taken the night before the procedure and half the morning of the procedure. This has been shown in studies to give the best results and is more tolerable and acceptable.
Remember, the final objective of the bowel cleansing preparation is to have the colon lining completely clear of any debris. Please plan on having clear access to bathroom facilities during this cleansing preparation period.
James Vecchio, MD, is Medical Director of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Fletcher Allen Health Care.