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Frequently Asked Questions about Colonoscopy Prep

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about colonoscopy bowel preparation. If you have other concerns or questions about your colonoscopy prep that are not addressed here, please call your gastroenterologist or primary care physician's office.


If I don't completely finish my bowel prep (if I throw up), can I still come in for my colonoscopy?

Yes. As long as you get enough down to start having frequent watery/clear bowel movements, the prep should be adequate.

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I am having too much nausea and have been able to take less than half of the prep. Can I still come in for my colonoscopy?

Try this: If you don't like the taste of the liquid in the bowel prep kit, drink the liquid very cold (or on ice!) and use a straw to help bypass some of your taste buds. Drink quickly rather than slowly.

If you still feel you cannot finish enough of the prep, please call our office at 617-667-2135. (After 5 p.m., you will hear instructions about how to page the GI on-call physician.)

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I have not been following a low residue diet nor a clear liquid diet prior to my procedure. Should I reschedule my colonoscopy?

The low residue diet is recommended as one part of your overall preparation for colonoscopy. Following the low residue diet provides added assurance that your preparation will be adequate. The most important aspect of the preparation is the laxative solution itself, which you have been instructed to drink.

Whether or not you complete this solution as instructed is what will determine the success of your preparation. Do your best to follow our dietary recommendations, but if for some reason you can't, we probably won't need to reschedule you.

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Can I still have my colonoscopy if I'm sick?

If you are sick, you may keep your scheduled appointment as long as you are not vomiting or experiencing a fever or a cough with sputum/phlegm.

Please call us at 617-667-2135 first thing in the morning if you feel you need to reschedule. Our scheduling office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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I've been taking aspirin/NSAIDS in the days before my colonoscopy; can I still come in for my procedure?

Yes. Generally this will not be a problem, and if we remove a polyp then we will ask you not to take aspirin or NSAIDs for one week.

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I've been taking multivitamins with iron in the days before my colonoscopy; can I still come in for my procedure?

Yes, but stop taking the vitamins right away. If you find your stool is generally very black when taking iron, it might be better to reschedule the colonoscopy for when you have stopped the iron for a week and your stools are brown.

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I've been taking Coumadin in the days before my colonoscopy; can I still come in for my procedure?

You should check with the doctor who prescribed the Coumadin about how far in advance you should stop taking it prior to a colonoscopy.

For most procedures you can still come in as scheduled, but should realize that under certain circumstances you might be at increased risk for bleeding. Your doctor may also want to postpone certain therapeutic procedures (for example, removing a large polyp).

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I have diabetes. When do I stop taking my medication? When is the last meal that I can eat?

Every patient's case is different. We strongly recommend that you discuss your diet and colonoscopy prep with your primary care physician or gastroenterologist prior to scheduling your colonoscopy.

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Should I take my blood pressure and/or heart medicine in the morning before my colonoscopy?

Yes. You should take all hypertension and cardiac medications at your usual times with a small amount of water.

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Contact Information

Digestive Disease Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston, MA 02215

Colonoscopy Prep Instructions

This is the standard prep recommended for most patients. Please confirm with your doctor that this is appropriate for you prior to beginning any procedure preparation.
Download Colonoscopy Prep (PDF)