Colonoscopy and Polyps: How to Prepare

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

Colonoscopy For Polyps.  The Prep.  Good News.

The incidence and death rate from colon cancer and rectal cancer has been steadily declining.  This is terrific news.  The reason?  The polyp to cancer sequencePolyps are benign overgrowths of tissue lining the colon or rectum.  It is these polyps that can transform and grow into colon or rectal cancer.  It is the job of the colon and rectal surgeon, also known as a proctologist, to remove the polyps before they can transform.  Hence, colonoscopy.

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In Los Angeles, and in all cities across the country, the understanding of the importance of colonoscopy and the acceptance of colonoscopy as a diagnostic and screening tool has increased greatly since the time when Katie Couric underwent her very public colonoscopy on television.  The colon cancer death rate has come down.  But, what about the preparation for colonoscopy.  What is it like?

The Preparation.  A Lot Depends On You.

The idea behind a bowel preparation is that the colon and rectum must be clean in order for the entire lining to be seen and all polyps found.  The preparation has evolved through the years.  It began with the patient drinking a large volume of cleansing solution (4 liters) called Golytely®.  It is a PEG solution (polyethylene glycol).  While it did (and still does do) the job well, the PEG preparation was inconvenient, tasted bad, and was not well loved by patients.

Over time, the preparations evolved.  A PEG preparation is still used but the volume of fluids ingested has been reduced by half.  Other preparations have been introduced which combine a smaller volume of liquids (as few as 11 glasses of water and solution during the day) with a better taste (Prepopik®).  But, it still depends on you, the patient.  Follow these simple tips and your preparation period will be easier, and the preparation may be cleaner.

As Easy As Counting To 12.

Here are some tips for a better preparation period.

The day prior to your colonoscopy:

  • Do not book a heavy work schedule or to-do list.
  • Sleep a little later if you can.  The rest will feel good.
  • Have your clear liquid drinks picked out the night before the prep.
  • Pick out clear liquids that you like.
  • Drink your prescribed amount of liquids slowly.  No rush equals no bloat.  Drink extra fluids if you can.  You are going to lose more water than you had anticipated.
  • Drink your fluids slightly chilled.
  • If you are comfortable, talk to friends or co-workers.  Sharing your joy seems to help pass the time.
  • Mix your prep and take as directed.  Watch the results.  (Hint-stay near a toilet.)
  • Don’t take the prep too late or you will be up late at night doing you-know-what while everyone else is asleep.  This can be rather lonely.  You would not be the first person to be sitting on the toilet in the dark of night, silently swearing to yourself.
  • Do not eat or drink after midnight unless instructed to do so as a part of the “split dose” regimen.
  • Take very few personal belongings with you to the endoscopy center.  This way, you will not have to keep track of many personal belongings.
  • Smile as much as you can.  Believe it or not it helps to get you through one of life’s necessities. If all is normal, you will smile a lot more when you awaken.

(And by the way, make friends with your doctor’s office staff in advance of your procedure.  For many reasons, this simple tip will make the whole experience much easier and will make it flow more smoothly.)

Los AngelesColon and Rectal Surgical Associates

The board certified surgeons at Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates are skilled and experienced endoscopists (colonoscopists), trained in performing the exam and removing polyps as well as performing other needed interventions.  They will help you through this life saving procedure with cheer and helpful hints.  Their staff is trained to make the experience as smooth as possible and is also a valuable resource in answering insurance questions and other non-medical issues.

Call (310)273-2310 to schedule a confidential consultation.

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