Jefferson University Hospitals

Colonoscopy Prep

A colonoscopy prep involves a change your diet for a day or two, and use a prescription or over-the-counter product, such as MoviPrep® or GoLYTELY®.  It's important to stay well-hydrated throughout the day before the exam – and to stay at home near a restroom, because the prep leads to frequent stools and even diarrhea.

In addition, talk to your doctor for instructions regarding any medication you are taking on a regular basis before prep, especially a blood thinner like Coumadin. Other over-the-counter medications that can also thin your blood and should be discussed, including aspirin and pain relievers, such as Advil®, Motrin®, Aleve® or any form of ibuprofen. 

Jefferson Health utilizes prescribed solutions for colonoscopy prep such as:

1. What should I do if the prep causes me to vomit?

Vomiting is a known side effect of the prep and can be easily managed with an anti-nausea medication. If vomiting occurs or the prep causes you to become really nauseous to the point where you can’t keep drinking it, you can request a prescription for an anti-nausea medication by calling the outpatient after-hours answering service and requesting to speak to the on-call physician.

2. I took the prep and I still haven’t had a bowel movement hours later.

Generally you should start moving your bowels about 1 hour after starting the prep, but in some people, the prep may take several hours to work. Be patient and continue to finish the prep as instructed. At some point during the night before the procedure you should start to have bowel movements.

3. My insurance does not cover the prep.

Please call the after-hours answering service and leave a message for the on-call physician so that he or she can prescribe an alternative prep.

4. Why can’t I eat solid food the day before my colonoscopy?

Eating solid food the day before may cause stool to stay within the colon on the day of your colonoscopy, even if you finish a whole bowel preparation. This will prevent your GI doctor from doing a thorough examination of the colon. Your GI doctor may even decide to stop the colonoscopy early if there is too much stool within the colon. This is why sticking to a clear liquid diet is important the day prior to your procedure.

5. My colonoscopy is one month from now. When should I pick up the prescription for the bowel prep?

As soon as you can! Picking up the medication the day it’s prescribed ensures you have the right medication at home for the day prior to the colonoscopy. You will also have plenty of time to review the instructions and ask your doctor questions. If you run into any issues with insurance coverage, you will be able to get that addressed ahead of time. Waiting until the day before the procedure means you may run into trouble with getting the medication or following the instructions in a timely manner.

6. I take baby aspirin. Do I need to stop that?

In general, aspirin 81mg does not need to be stopped.

7. Should I stop my diuretic pills or blood pressure medications before a colonoscopy?

No, these medications are safe to take the morning of your procedure.

8. When should I stop Coumadin or warfarin?

Coumadin (generic name warfarin) needs to be stopped 5 days prior to your colonoscopy. PLEASE discuss this with your cardiologist or primary care doctor.

9. When should I stop Plavix (generic name clopidogrel)?

Please stop this 5 days prior to your colonoscopy. PLEASE discuss this with your cardiologist or whichever physician prescribes Plavix for you.

10. Do I need to stop thyroid medication?

No, this can be continued.

11. Does Golytely need to be split?

No, please see link to instruction website for Golytely/ Nulytely.

12. How should I adjust my insulin or other diabetes medications?

Typically you should hold any oral diabetes medications on the day of the procedure. We also generally recommended halving the dose of Lantus or other long-acting insulin agents the night before the colonoscopy. Please talk to your primary care physician (PCP), endocrinologist or family medicine doctor for further instructions on how to adjust diabetes medications the day prior to and day of the colonoscopy.

13. Can I take sips of water with my medications the morning of the procedures?

Sips of water with your medications are fine.

Please do not take lactulose or potassium packets (power form) less than 2 hours prior to your colonoscopy. If you take either of these medications regularly, take them 2 or more hours prior to your colonoscopy as they do not count as a “clear liquid.”

14. Do I need to prep for my upcoming EGD (upper endoscopy)?

You do not need to do a bowel prep the day prior to an EGD, unless you are having a colonoscopy on the same day as the EGD.

15. What can I eat after the procedure?

Your GI doctor will see you after the procedure and let you know if it’s ok to eat. Generally there are no dietary restrictions after colonoscopy. However, you should avoid consuming any alcohol rest of the day as it will interact with anesthesia medications given during the colonoscopy.

16. Can I take iron or vitamins prior to my colonoscopy?

Multivitamins are fine. Please hold any iron pills or vitamin pills containing iron 24 the day prior to and day of your colonoscopy as iron residue in the GI tract can interfere with visualization of your colon. If you do take iron, we will not cancel the procedure, but it will be helpful to your GI doctor if you hold iron for 24 hours as instructed above.

17. Can I take NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc) before my colonoscopy?

You can take NSAIDs.

18. How late can I eat the day prior to my colonoscopy?

Please do not eat or drink anything after midnight the day of your colonoscopy EXCEPT for the colonoscopy prep.

19. I have a cold - do I need to cancel my colonoscopy?

If you have fevers (temperature > 100.6) or feel too unwell to drink the colonoscopy preparation, then it would be best to reschedule the colonoscopy for when you are better. If you have nasal congestion, sneezing, or mild coughing you can still come in for the procedure. If you have constant, persistent coughing, then you should reschedule.

20. How early do I need to arrive for my colonoscopy?

Please arrive 1 hour prior to the time it’s scheduled for.

What is Same-Day Colonoscopy Prep?

At Jefferson, you have access to both split-dosage prep and now the same-day prep for colonoscopies.

Our researchers conducted a study of 116 patients given either a split dosage of colon preparation the night before and morning of their colonoscopy or the solely the morning of their procedure. The study found that both treatments are equally as effective.

Same-day colon prep is not for patients with certain medical conditions, such as diabetics. Talk to your doctor to see if you're a candidate.

Virtual Colonoscopy Prep

  • One day before test, clear liquids only; no solid food.
  • You will be taking either a MoviPrep or a prep given to you by your physician.
  • You should also be taking a Tagitol Prep two days before your CT scan.

Make an Appointment

Call 1-800-JEFF-NOW (1-800-533-3669) to schedule a colonoscopy with a Jefferson Health specialist.