Colonoscopy Preparation Important for Test

Failure to Prepare Could Cause Test to be Prolonged or Delayed

A colonoscopy is a necessary test that can save your life, but there is really no way to get around the preparation that is needed prior to the procedure.

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer in men and women and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

An exam can detect the disease, making it treatable if caught early. Doctors can detect and remove polyps, which are small growths that can develop into colon cancer. Removal and treatment prevents the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.

Emptying the contents of the colon is important and a small price to pay for this critical test. “We don’t want to miss polyps and lesions,” said Joe Lamb, MD, ThedaCare Physicians-New London. “Not properly emptying the colon can also cause the colonoscopy to take longer or it may need to be rescheduled.”

Preparation starts a couple days before the colonoscopy and involves diet changes and drinking bowel cleaning liquids. The bowel prep takes place the afternoon or evening before the colonoscopy. A liquid drink that triggers bowel movements will be provided.

Here are some tips to make the colon prep process more comfortable:

  • Read all instructions thoroughly as soon as received. Ask questions as soon as possible. Gather needed supplies like medicated wipes and a skin-soothing product.
  • Although restricted to clear liquids the day before the procedure, beverages like Gatorade, soft drinks, popsicles, clear broth and Jell-O are fine. “Be sure to drink extra liquids before, during and after the bowel prep and after the colonoscopy,” said Dr. Lamb.
  • Be home on time to start the prep. Arrange for privacy to complete it with as little stress as possible.
  • Prepare to spend some time in the bathroom. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and plan on staying in the bathroom during the colon prep. Settle in with some music, beverages and a chance to get caught up on some reading. “Once the process starts, urges to go to the bathroom will come on suddenly,” said Dr. Lamb.

Once you clear the hurdle with the colon prep, the rest is smooth sailing, said Dr. Lamb. “The colonoscopy takes little time and patients often do not remember it because they are given a sedative prior to the procedure,” he said.

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 32 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.