A successful bowel prep is key to an accurate colonoscopy screening. Thomas Pacicco, MD, medical director and gastroenterologist at Atrium Health’s Carolinas HealthCare System Digestive Health, shares his colonoscopy prep recommendations.

Your Health, News | 2 months ago

Getting a Colonoscopy? Here Are 3 Tips to Improve Your Prep Experience.

A successful bowel prep is key to an accurate colonoscopy screening. Our expert shares some prep tips to make things easier. 

A colonoscopy is one of the best ways to prevent colon cancer (also called colorectal cancer).

Most cases of colon cancer begin as a noncancerous growth, called a polyp, on the inner lining of the colon or rectum.

During a colonoscopy, your doctor can examine the colon for polyps, remove them, and perform a polyp biopsy (removing and testing a sample of tissue) to determine if the growth is cancerous or noncancerous.

When colon cancer is caught in the early stages, it’s one of the most curable cancers.

Preparing for your colonoscopy, aka the bowel prep

The only way your doctor will be able to clearly view your colon is if it’s empty. When there is leftover stool in the colon, visualization can be difficult or even impossible, which means polyps and cancerous tissue can be missed. The key to avoiding this colonoscopy blunder is a successful bowel prep.

The prep involves eating low-fiber foods that are easy to digest, fasting (consuming clear liquids) and taking strong laxatives, which increase bowel movements.

We asked Thomas Pacicco, MD, medical director and gastroenterologist at Atrium Health’s Carolinas HealthCare System Digestive Health, to share his colonoscopy prep recommendations.

Top 3 prep tips:

1. Eat a low-fiber diet

Stick to a low-fiber diet (low-residue) for three days prior to your colonoscopy. By eating foods like mashed potatoes, yogurt or soup, your body will have an easier time during the night of the prep and a better chance for a successful cleanse. The day before your colonoscopy (your prep day), only ingest clear liquids. This will make the prep day much easier.

2. Mix and chase

Mix the prep drink with any sort of clear fluid such as soda or flavored water, drink it through a straw, and suck on lemon slices or popsicles to help move the prep along. Remember, the faster you can drink it, the more likely your prep will be successful.

3. Hydrate

Obviously, during the prep, you’re getting rid of a lot of fluid along with stool, so it’s easy to get dehydrated, which is often the reason people don’t feel well during the prep. It’s important to adequately replace fluids by drinking plenty of water in addition to the prep drink you’re consuming.

To learn more about colonoscopies, if you’re at risk for colon cancer and more, visit AtriumHealth.org/DigestiveHealth.

If you’d like to schedule a colonoscopy with Atrium Health, call 704-512-6161.