Colonoscopy preparation

My dad, being mind-bogglingly old, is going in tomorrow to have his very first colonoscopy. I’d consider this a milestone in his life, but just the same I don’t think I’ll ask him to bring home pictures for the photo album.

At any rate, the examination instructions are highly specific, and oddly arbitrary in certain ways. To whit:

All right, no solid foods and plenty of fluids, combined with the laxative, oughta clear him out pretty good. That I understand. But what exactly is it about red foods that makes them unacceptable? Why those two particular colors of Jell-O, and that one particular flavor of Gatorade? Clear liquids - except for coffee. Why is coffee ok, even though cola is out?

Why no gum or mints after midnight? Normally when one is anesthetized, as he will be (not completely, however) they can’t eat after midnight the night before. But does a breath mint or gum increase the risk of aspiration pneumonia in some way? Or a swallow or two of water? I can’t imagine not eating for a day and a half, and then not being able to even have water for well over twelve hours . . . I’d be miserable. Can anyone explain some of these things to me? I’m quite puzzled about the restrictions on RED liquids.

WAG: Red dyes could give false appearance of lesions. Coffee has no artificial colors that can affect the color of the colon, cola does–and has a reddish tint to it.

I was told to avoid red and PURPLE beverages and fruit juice with pulp.

Green and yellow Jell-o counted as a beverage. Why the preference for clear or green or yellow? The nurse told me “You can see through those colors.”

Hey, that’s what she told me.

The red dye could also be mistaken for blood, turning a routine check into something of major concern.

Most people agree that by far the worst aspect of having a colonoscopy is the prep, particularly when your doctor requires you to drink large quantities of GoLytely or NuLytely. Yikes! They’re terrible!

But the majority of medical researchers now agree that these are no longer the best choice for bowel prep: that honor (such as it is) goes to phospo-soda solution, which requires that you drink much less of it than the Lytelys.

I’ve tried both methods, and I promise you that the phospho-soda route is far more easily tolerated (although it’s no picnic either).

So don’t meekly accept your doctor’s insistence on GoLytely or NuLytely. Tell him or her that you’re gonna take phospho-soda instead.

p.s.: I have no financial interests either way

I can’t add anything to the responses others have given you in this thread, except that for some reason, I didn’t feel hungry or thirsty leading up to the procedure. One of my relatives underwent the same test recently, and when we compared notes, his experience (no hunger or thirst) was the same as mine. Follow the instructions re colours of clear diet, the misery of having to redo the examination far outweighs the inconveniences of doing the prep right the first time.

Best wishes to your dad, I hope everything goes well and he gets a clean bill of health.

You guys think you have it bad, I had my first one when I was 19. Agreed Golytely is FUN stuff to drink… I have a small house, and was surprised I made it to the bathroom each time. But yes, I had almost the same exact warnings, and found out some varieties of popsicles that taste horrible… not to mention the new-at-that-time “Clear”/ICE gatorade.

I was soooooo strung out on drugs durring the procedure, the last thing I remember doing was asking the doctors to “turn off the hall light”. I mean, I felt nothing, after the drugs set in… The enemas on the other hand…

Afterwards, everything was great. I had a deep dish meatlovers large later that night.

You’re not supposed to eat or drink prior to surgery because anesthetic can cause some people to get sick if they have anything on their stomach. I’m sure the gum and mint issue has something to do with swallowing excessive saliva which is produced when sucking on mints or chewing gum.

However, the majority of people aren’t under general anesthetic when undergoing a colonoscopy. They are usually just mildly sedated. It probably has to do with the physician being cautious, just in case general anesthetic is required.

Any dyes or artificial colors which could affect the color of the interior wall of the colon should be avoided. Red is known to do this.

It has more to do with a colonoscopy involving sticking a camera up your bum, and it’s preferable for the inside of your colon to be clean and free of shit so that the walls can be seen clearly.

I appreciate what you’re saying and totally agree. However, I believe the staying away from gum and even sucking on a candy all has to do with not swallowing more saliva which obviously ends up in the stomach. I know that just from prior surgeries I’ve had myself.

I don’t think chewing gum is going to produce anything as far down as your colon. Do you?

And as for the instructions, they seem to differ a lot in the details. I would imagine that it is a consequence of the varying opinions of different Gastroenterologists, and reccomendations by various makers of antifreeze, er, the lavage solution[sup]1[/sup].

I just had my first one a couple months ago. My instructions just said to eat a light lunch, like a salad, on the day before and not eat after noon. It had the routine about drinking only clear liquids, and provided some examples, but wasn’t specific about what colors corresponded to “clear”. Googling around, I found some instructions involving Colyte (my guy’s backflush of choice, apparently) which said to drink it until you produced clear watery stools. My instructions were very clear about drinking the whole gallon.

Actually, I was rather dreading the prep, imagining getting violent, cramping, explosive diarrhea from the stuff, and feeling horrible as a result. It does taste awful (the koolaid-like flavor packets that came with my version didn’t help much), and bloats you like you wouldn’t believe, but the effect is more like “Oh, I sort of have to go” every hour for the entire evening. And you are eventually just producing pure liquid in increasingly lighter shades.

I got “twilight sedation” - some sort of benzodiazepine plus fentanyl. I find the effect quite pleasant actually - I’ve had it for one or two things before. What wasn’t pleasant was the incredible gas pains that followed, until I figured out at home that the best thing to do was lie on my stomach, whereupon I farted for about half an hour. Then everything was fine.

All in all, I’m glad the guy said that I looked normal and won’t need another for 5 years.

[sup]1[/sup] - the stuff in what they gave me is polyethylene glycol, actually, which does give you pause - it’s ethylene glycol which is in antifreeze and is horribly toxic.