How to Prepare for Your First Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy, Rockwall Surgical Specialists

Like mammograms, prostate exams, and other health screening procedures, a colonoscopy probably doesn’t rate high on your list of favorite things. However, this relatively quick study, during which you’re sedated, provides invaluable insight regarding the health of your colon and rectal (colorectal) region.

It’s probably most familiar as a cancer screening tool, but we also use the colonoscopy to identify reasons for persistent rectal bleeding, constipation, diarrhea, and other troublesome symptoms. We can treat many abnormalities as we encounter them during your colonoscopy. For instance, we remove polyps or repair irritated tissue to stop bleeding.

The success of your colonoscopy relies on your surgeon’s skill, and we have more than an adequate supply of that here at Rockwall Surgical Specialists. But we need your colon clean in order to capture clear images during a colonoscopy, and that part is up to you and the prep you undergo before the study.

Why preparation for a colonoscopy matters

If you’re preparing for your first colonoscopy, you already may know that during the study, your surgeon inserts a soft tube with a tiny camera attached (colonoscope) into your large intestine via your anus.

As your surgeon slowly withdraws the scope, the camera returns high-definition images of the tissue lining the inner walls of your colorectal region. We use these real-time images to check for abnormalities that may include areas of irritation or bleeding, inflammatory or cancerous changes, or polyps that can develop into cancer.

To clearly identify tissue abnormalities, your colon needs to be as clear of waste material as possible at the time of your study. That’s where the prep comes in, and it generally starts about five days beforehand. If your preparation is inadequate, we may have to delay your colonoscopy.

Hold the fiber before your colonoscopy

We give you precise details about how to prep for a colonoscopy when we schedule the study. But in general, we ask that you start eating easily digestible, low-fiber foods five days beforehand so your intestine can clear waste more quickly.

It’s also important that you supply us with an accurate record of all the medications you take regularly, including over-the-counter products and supplements, so we can revise your list as necessary.

Low-fiber foods to consider for your meals include:

Foods that are more difficult to digest and that may interfere with capturing clear images during a colonoscopy include:

Switch to liquids 24 hours before, and take your laxative

You must switch to a liquid-only diet (clear liquids) the day before your colonoscopy and take the laxative we’ve prescribed as directed.

We typically split the laxative dose, half the evening before and the remainder about six hours before your study. This step is vital and necessary to clear any remaining waste matter from your colorectal region.

Carefully follow the instructions we give you, including fluid restrictions on the day of the study. If you have any questions before or during your prep, we encourage you to call the office.

Whew! It may sound like a lot of work, but preparing for a colonoscopy essentially involves limiting certain foods from your diet for a few days and taking a laxative as directed. And the knowledge we gain about your colorectal health is well worth the effort.


If it’s time for your first colonoscopy, schedule a visit today with Rockwall Surgical Specialists.

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