The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Diagnostic Tests - Colonoscopy
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How do I prepare for the test?
  • For the doctor to get a clear look at the lining of your large intestine, it's important that you drink only clear liquids, such as juice or broth, the night before the procedure. During the afternoon and evening before the procedure, you need to clear your bowels by drinking a fluid that will help flush them out. Because this fluid will cause you to go to the bathroom frequently, it's best to stay home after you take it. Some doctors recommend a laxative instead of this liquid, or they recommend using both. Your doctor may recommend an enema 30-60 minutes before the colonoscopy, so you have one last bowel movement. For many people who undergo a colonoscopy, the "clean-out procedures" before the test are more unpleasant than the test itself.

    Avoid taking aspirin or other NSAIDs for several days before the test to reduce the risk of bleeding in case a biopsy must be taken or a polyp removed. Also, let your doctor know if you're taking a blood-thinning medicine. In addition, tell your doctor if you've had any abdominal surgery and if you're taking insulin. Since you must limit what you eat on the day before the colonoscopy, if you take your usual dose of insulin, your blood sugar might become dangerously low.

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