Monday, July 03, 2006

Preparing for a Colonoscopy

While a colonoscopy can be uncomfortable or embarrassing, it's an important test that can find inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, ulcers, bleeding, and early signs of cancer in the large intestine. For this procedure, your doctor inserts a long, flexible tube with a lighted camera into your rectum in order to gather a clear picture of your colon. Though a colonoscopy only takes an hour, you must prepare for the procedure several days in advance to ensure that the test is thorough and safe.

If you are scheduled for a colonoscopy, your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Follow a Liquid Diet. Since your colon must be completely empty for a colonoscopy, you may be advised to stick to a liquid diet for one to three days beforehand. A liquid diet means consuming only fat-free bouillon or broth, strained fruit juice, water, plain coffee, plain tea, or diet soda.
  • Avoid Red. Red dye may color the intestine and interfere with test results. Therefore, you should avoid gelatin or popsicles in this color.
  • Take a Laxative. The night before the procedure, you may be asked to take a laxative, a pill that helps empty the rest of your bowels.
  • Arrange Transportation. You will be mildly sedated during the colonoscopy, and must arrange for someone to take you home afterward. You won't be able to drive because of the sedative.
  • Your physician may have additional requirements for the preparation of your colonoscopy. To avoid any confusion or inaccurate results, discuss all aspects of the procedure before the actual testing day.

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