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Preps for Colonoscopy – Risks When Not Done

In honesty, the possibility of needing to have a colonoscopy can be bothersome. No matter how you view it, just the thought of having one can be scary. However, a colonoscopy is a very safe test that has a minimal of risks. In fact, research shows that the risk of complications is extremely low at about 0.35 percent. Nonetheless, the risks are a bit higher with a polypectomy (removal of a polyp) at approximately 6 percent.

When there are complications they can include bleeding, perforation, an infection, reaction to the anesthetic and postpolypectomy syndrome. But studies show, the more a patient knows about a procedure, the less scary it seems. For more information about overall testing see “Taking the Scary Out of Colonoscopy


Many agree that the preparation of a colonoscopy is more difficult than the entire procedure. The good news is that once the prep is done, the rest of the procedure is easy. For the most part, preparation involves getting rid of the feces in the colon. However, the methods of preparation can differ. These vary from pills to taking liquids with or without an enema. But nonetheless, it is imperative that the bowels are cleaned out properly. That way the instruments can pass through the colon a lot easier and your physician can better examine for polyps or other irregularities. In addition, your physician or a specialist will know the best method of preparation for you.

How to Prepare

According to the Mayo Clinic, any residue in your colon can block a clear view of your colon and rectum during the exam. Your physician or a specialist may prescribe any of the following ways to empty the colon:

Laxatives – Your physician may recommend a laxative in liquid or pill form. Generally, the laxative is taken the night before your colonoscopy. Sometimes it is necessary to take the laxative the night before and the morning of the procedure.

Special Diet – Sometimes it is required that you sustain from solid foods the day before the exam. As well, drinks may be limited to only clear liquids such as plain water, broth and coffee or tea (without cream or milk). Also, red liquids need to be avoided because it can look like blood during the colonoscopy.

Enema Kits – Sometimes it is recommended that you use an over-the-counter enema kit to empty the colon. It is generally used the night prior to the exam or a few hours before the testing.

Adjusting Medications – It is best to remind your physician of the medications you take at least a week prior to the exam. This is especially important if you have heart problems, diabetes or high blood pressure or if you take supplements that contain iron. As well, make sure to tell your physician about aspirin or any other blood thinning medications that you take like rivaroxaban (Xarelto), clopidogrel (Plavix) or dabigatran (Pradaxa). Note: You may need to reduce or stop taking the medications briefly.

At GI North, Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano define the procedure and how it is utilized to identify and prevent colon cancer. In addition, GI North can help you lower the risks of developing colorectal cancer. For instance, it is recommended that you have your first colonoscopy at age 50. However, earlier screening is advised if you have the following symptoms or conditions:

  • Polyps
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal discomfort or pain
  • A change in bowel movements
  • A family or personal history of colon cancer
  • A history of known genetic inflammatory colon cancer bowel disease

Contact the professional staff at GI North if you feel you need a colonoscopy or you have personal questions or concerns. GI North serves the Cumming, GA area as well as the surrounding areas of Alpharetta, Canton, Roswell and Suwanee. In addition, Dr. Quijano speaks fluent Spanish.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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