Gastroenterologist Questions Colonoscopy

Fear of colonoscopy

How bad is the prep for a colonoscopy? I've heard that it is the worst part of the procedure. Is this true?

4 Answers

Most patients will say the prep is the worst part of the entire experience, but they differ a lot in their ability to tolerate it. Some complain bitterly and others say it was no big deal. It all depends on your point of view - like many things in life. The oral purgatives will produce rather profound diarrhea, which is necessary to clear out all of the stool from the colon. Taking liquids only the day before the colonoscopy is pretty much standard. I often will also tell patients to also eat light 2 days before the colonoscopy - i.e., toast, rice, eggs, no raw vegetables. Taking laxatives 2 days before might help too. The less stool that needs to be purged on the day before the test, then the easier it will be to clear out and perhaps the less fluid will be needed to clear it out. Regardless of how the prep is perceived, one should focus on getting the colonoscopy done because it is an important procedure in preventing cancer.
It is definitely the worst part! That's because you are sedated for the actual procedure, so there is no discomfort.
That being said, the prep is not bad, just an annoyance. Now that all of the preps are done in split dose fashion (half the dose, then the other half hours later) it's much easier to tolerate. The volume to drink is much more manageable
There is nothing more important than a good prep it can be the difference in finding important growths or missing them
Several preps are available, some of which are extremely easy (Prepopik, Suprep, Visicol). They do, however, involve extra cost as the insurance companies only pay for the cheapest, not the easiest preps.
The colon, also known as the large bowel, is the most distal part of the gastrointestinal tract and as such, it takes a longer time to cleanse the colon than to cleanse more proximal parts of the GI system.

This is the reason why preparing for a colonoscopy seems somewhat daunting however, following directions properly and ensuring adequate oral hydration with electrolyte solutions during bowel prep will help considerably in most cases.

Also, while on a clear liquid diet, do not hesitate to include warm items such as clear warm broth and tea, especially clear green tea. Most clear liquids are cold, and adding warm clear liquids relaxes the bowels and brings a sense of comfort.