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Colonoscopy

The following information aims to assist you in preparing you for your colonoscopy procedure, provides helpful hints as you are taking your bowel preparation, briefly provides what to expect when you go home and when to seek medical help.

Preparation for colonoscopy

For a successful colonoscopy it is important the bowel is very empty. An empty bowel means the doctor is more likely to see the lining of the bowel and detect any problems. Poor preparation may mean the procedure will need to be repeated on another day.

Carer

It is important to arrange to have a ‘Carer’ to care for you when you leave hospital. Every patient who has a procedure performed under sedation or general anaesthetic and is leaving hospital within the same day as their procedure needs
to be handed over to a carer (over 18 years of age). This person will be responsible for your wellbeing and recovery for up to 12 or 24 hours depending on the type of anaesthesia received. The ‘Responsible Person’ brochure will provide more detail regarding the expectation of responsibilities and the required time period.

Work arrangements

It is important that you re-arrange your normal activities and take time off for:

  • the preparation of the procedure
  • the day of the procedure
  • the day after your procedure (if instructed).

A medical certificate will be provided on discharge for yourself and the person responsible for picking you up from hospital and caring for you at home

Medications and your procedure

Some medications must be stopped prior to your procedure. These instructions will be given by your doctor and listed on your bowel preparation instructions. Ensure you check and follow these instructions.

Being prepared

You will need to start the low fibre diet four days before your colonoscopy.

This reduces the fibre in your bowel, which makes it easier when you start the 2-day bowel cleansing regime. Refer to the diet plan for items you can and cannot eat.

Some additional items you may wish to have are:

  • barley sugar or butterscotch lollies (to use between prep drinks)
  • protective cream, e.g. Lanoline or Vaseline (to apply around your anal area to reduce irritation)
  • Moist toilet wipes (may also soothe the area after using toilet paper).

Diet preparation and bowel preparation

It is important to follow the diet and bowel preparation instructions that have been provided to you. 

For a successful colonoscopy it is very important that the bowel is cleaned well. This will enable the doctor to clearly see the lining of the bowel.

Is your bowel clean?

Poor preparation may mean that the procedure will be stopped and you will have to repeat the preparations and procedure another day.

Helpful hints and tips

  • If you become ill or have severe pain seek medical advice from your general practitioner or nearest emergency medical centre.
  • Hydration is essential for effective colonoscopy prep
  • Drink the solution through a straw
  • Add diet lemon cordial to the preparation mixture
  • Keep warm
  • Some people find that drinking the solution very quickly and then using a “chaser” such as apple juice helps the prep go down easier
  • If you feel nauseated while taking the preparation, stop for half and hour.  Have a hot drink and walk around.  Resume drinking the solution more slowly.
  • If you have haemorrhoids (piles) use your haemorrhoid cream to  reduce discomfort
  • Stay near a bathroom
  • If you feel bloated, try walking around. Suck some peppermints or drink peppermint tea.

Failure to have a bowel motion 

People vary in the time it takes to have a bowel motion after commencing the bowel preparation. To help relieve any concerns about your progress the following information will help guide you.

Day before your procedure:

If you have not had a bowel motion and you are not experiencing pain or vomiting,continue drinking.

Day of your procedure:

If you are scheduled to arrive at hospital before 7.30 am and you have not had a bowel motion or your bowel motions are not clear, go to the hospital as planned and at the admission desk ask to speak with a nurse as soon as possible regarding concerns about your bowel preparation.
If you are scheduled to arrive at hospital after 7.30 am and you have not had a bowel motion or your bowel motions are not clear, please phone 07 3163 1630 and leave a message for the endoscopy unit nurse. The endoscopy nurse is available to take messages from 7:30 am and will provide you with further instructions.

Severe pain and vomiting

If you have severe pain or vomiting, or you are unwell and concerned about your health, it is wise to attend your nearest emergency department or phone an ambulance on 000 in order to be assessed by medical staff.

On the day of your Colonoscopy

It is suggested for your own safety and comfort, that before and after you procedure you:

  • Wear loose comfortable clothing
  • You DO NOT drive yourself home
  • You MUST have an escort home by a friend or relative
  • You MUST have someone with you for the remainder of the day as well as overnight
  • Please bring a plastic bag to store your clothing during your hospital stay.
  • Please bring your Medicare, Pension or Healthcare cards if you have them.

Please do not wear:

  • Makeup or nail polish
  • Jewellery
  • Perfumes

Please do not bring valuables or large sums of money with you. The hospital cannot accept responsibility for these items.

Smoking: please STOP smoking at least 24 hours before your procedure

Alcohol: DO NOT drink any alcohol (including beer) for 24hrs prior to your procedure.

Drugs and medicines:

  • Please follow any medication plan instructed by the Doctor or Nurse during your consultation.
  • It is important to advise the department of any medication changes

Xrays and Scans: Please bring all private xrays and scans associated with your current visit and ensure that you take them home with you when you are discharged.

After your colonoscopy

Planning for going home after the procedure

Before you go home, a nurse will speak with you and your carer about what to expect. You will be given a copy of your procedure report and discharge instructions. A copy of this report will be sent to your GP. Your procedure and results are to be discussed at a follow up appointment with your GP (allow seven days for pathology reports to be available). You may receive a phone call or if you are required to attend the hospital outpatient department for follow up, an appointment letter will be sent to you.

Important information for after your procedure

After you leave the hospital, if you have any non-urgent concerns please speak with your GP or contact the procedure department directly. If you or your carer notice any of the following please present to your nearest Emergency Department or phone an ambulance on 000:

  • persistent bleeding from bowels or black tarry bowel motions
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • rapid heart beat, dizziness
  • increasing drowsiness, including difficulty rousing from sleep
  • increasing persistent pain unrelieved by medication
  • inability to keep fluids down
  • high fever
  • have any other concerns where you feel you need medical assistance.

The low fibre diet

Please plan your meals from the foods to choose lists below.  If you do not see foods you eat in the “YES” column please do not eat it.

Food group Allowed Not allowed
Breads and cereals

Plain white bread, toast or rolls
Plain cakes and biscuits
Plain pancakes or piklets
White rice and pasta
Refined breakfast cereal—plain corn flakes, Special K, Rice Bubbles
Semolina
Couscous
Polenta

Wholemeal, wholegrain or multigrain breads or muffins
Brown rice, wholemeal pasta, buckwheat
Unprocessed bran, oats, oatmeal
Wholegrain cereals – Weetbix, Vita Brits, bran cereals
Muesli
Cakes and biscuits containing nuts or dried fruit

Fruit
and vegetables

Potato
Pumpkin
Marrow, squash
Choko
Avocado
Mushrooms
Ripe banana
Watermelon, rockmelon
Apple, peach, pear
Canned peach, apricot, apple, pear
Pawpaw

All other fruits and vegetables, including salad vegetables
Cucumber
Tomatoes
Beetroot
​Capsicum

Dairy products

Milk
Plain ice cream
Plain  or vanilla yogurt
Cheese: processed and plain
Butter/margarine

Dairy products with fruit nuts and seeds
Nut milk
Oat milk
Rice milk

Meat and
Protein foods

Beef
Lamb
Veal
Pork
Poultry
Eggs
Fish and shell fish

Baked beans
Lentils
Legumes
Nuts and seeds
Coconut and coconut flour
Quinoa

Beverages

Water
Tea/coffee
Plain milk drinks
Milo/Ovaltine
Soft drinks
White wine
Clear soups

Red, purple and green coloured drinks
Unstrained fruit juices

Other

Plain lollies
Clear jellies, no purple, red or dark green
Sugar
Plain chocolate
Honey
Jellied strained jams
Vegemite

Jams with skin and seeds
Peanut  butter
Dried fruits
Nuts
Marmalade
Popcorn

Any questions

  • If you have any questions before your procedure contact the pre-admission department on 07 3163 3426 Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.
  • If you feel your bowel motion is not clear enough please contact the Endoscopy Day Surgery on 07 3163 1630.
  • If you haven’t started your bowel preparation and wish to cancel your procedure please contact the Endoscopy bookings office on 07 3163 8444 every Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4 pm.


© 2021 Mater Misericordiae Ltd. ACN 096 708 922.

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-420057
Last modified 19/1/2021.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 28/2/2017
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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