beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

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Here are answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about colonoscopy bowel preparation. If you have other concerns or questions about your prep, please call your physician's office.


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

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

2. I am having too much nausea and have been able to take less than half of the prep.

Try this solution: 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, then you can call our office at 617-667-2135. After 5pm, you will hear instructions about how to page the GI on-call physician.

3. I didn't read the diet instructions far enough in advance. I just read about the 'low residue diet' that I should have had for 3 days before my procedure, and the clear liquid diet on the day before my procedure. I haven't been following this diet. Should I reschedule?

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 won't need to reschedule you.

4. Can I still have my procedure 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 contact us first thing in the morning if you feel you need to reschedule. You can call your doctor's office or 617-667-2135 between 8:00am-4:30pm.

5. I didn't read the instructions until now and I am taking aspirin/NSAIDS. 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.

6. I didn't read the instructions until now and I am taking multivitamins with iron. Can I still come in for my procedure?

Yes, but stop taking the vitamins now. 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.

7. I didn't read the instructions until now and I am taking Coumadin. Can I still come in for my procedure?

You should check with your doctor who prescribed the Coumadin about how far in advance you should stop it. For most procedures you can still come in, but should realize that under certain circumstances you might be at increased risk for bleeding and the doctor might want to postpone certain therapeutic procedures (for example, removing a large polyp).

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

You must discuss these questions with your primary care physician since every patient's case is different.


1. Should I take my high blood pressure and/or heart medicines the morning of the procedure?

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