My procedure is in the afternoon. Can I eat or drink in the morning?
To ensure patient safety, it is important that the stomach is empty. Any food or liquid in the stomach at the time of the procedure places the patient at risk of aspirating those contents into the lungs-a serious situation which could require hospitalization. If you have an afternoon appointment, you may drink water up to 6 hours prior to your procedure.
I ate breakfast (lunch or dinner) today. Is that okay?
It is important that your stomach is completely empty for any endoscopic procedure performed under sedation as discussed above. It is also extremely important that your colon is clean for any examination of the lower GI tract. If the preparation instructions were not followed properly, residual stool may remain in the colon and hide important findings from the examining physician and consequently from you. In some cases, you may have to repeat the preparation and the exam. If you accidentally eat any solid food the day before your exam, please call and ask to speak with a member of the nursing staff. You may be asked to reschedule your procedure.
I don't have a ride. Is that okay?
If you do not have a ride or a responsible adult to accompany you home, we will be unable to do your procedure. The effects of the medications used for sedation by our clinical staff may include sleepiness, delayed reaction/reflex times, and transitory confusion. These effects may last the remainder of the day after your procedure. This is a patient safety and legal liability issue and is not open for negotiation.
How many days prior to my procedure should I discontinue my Coumadin (or other blood thinning medications)?
Patients on any type of anti-coagulant therapy must direct that question to the physician that placed them on the medication. Generally speaking, you should quit taking your blood thinning medication 5-7 days prior to your procedure but you must check with the prescribing physician to ensure that it is safe for you to do so.
What medications can I take the day before and the day of my procedure?
The day prior to your procedure take your medications the way you normally would. However, for those patients taking any type of bowel cleansing preparation, be advised that you may undergo a prolonged period of diarrhea that may flush oral medications out of your system before they have time to take effect. The morning of your procedure you are encouraged to take any blood pressure or heart medications you may be on with a small sip of water. You can hold most other medications and take them once your procedure has been completed. If you have questions about a specific medication(s), please call a member of our clinical staff.
I am diabetic. Do I take my insulin?
Please check your blood sugar the morning of your procedure as you normally would. Keeping in mind that you are fasting, you may take one-half of your normal insulin dose but you should be directed by your blood sugar reading. If you have any questions about your diabetes management in conjunction with your fast for your endoscopic procedure, please consult with your primary physician.
I am on pain medication. Can I take it prior to my procedure?
Many prescription pain medications can adversely affect the medications we use for sedation and for that reason we recommend that the day of your procedure you delay taking your pain medication until after your procedure has been completed. If you have any questions, please call a member of our clinical staff.
I am having my menstrual period. Should I reschedule my colonoscopy appointment?
No. Your menstrual period will not interfere with your physician's ability to complete your procedure.
May I continue taking my iron tablets?
No. Iron can cause the formation of dark-colored stools which can make it difficult for the physician to complete your colonoscopy if your preparation is less than optimal. We recommend you stop taking your oral iron supplements at least one week prior to your procedure.
I have been on aspirin therapy for my heart. Should I continue to take it?
Aspirin has the same effect as many of the other blood-thinning medications. Routine aspirin use prevents blood platelets from sticking together. As such, it is requested that you stop your aspirin use for 3-5 days prior to your procedure.
I am having a colonoscopy tomorrow. I started my colon preparation on time but now I am experiencing diarrhea and/or a bloated feeling. What should I do?
Nausea, vomiting and a sense of fullness or bloating can occur anytime after beginning your colon preparation. However, it is important that you drink all the preparation because in addition to cleansing your colon, it is replacing the electrolytes your body is losing through the diarrhea. For most people, taking an hour break from the preparation will usually help. Then continue taking the preparation as ordered. If the vomiting returns or symptoms get worse, please call the GI Fellow on call as indicated in your preparation instruction sheet.
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Learn more about colorectal cancer care and support services at MedStar Georgetown:
- General Instructions for Patients Undergoing Colonoscopies
- Colorectal Cancer treatment
- Genetic Counseling Services