Preparing for a Colonoscopy

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This page is intended as general guidelines for colon screening at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Each patient will receive specific instructions, based on medical history and the doctor's recommendations.


  • Patients should talk to staff to clarify all the details before a procedure

  • You must have a responsible adult present to drive you home from your procedure.

  • You will be sedated and unable to drive yourself.

Before Your Colon Screening

Problems or Questions?

To cancel or reschedule your test, please call 215-214-1421 before 4:30PM. 

If you develop a fever, cold, or flu-like symptoms, or if  you need to reach us the morning of the procedure, please call 215-214-1460. If your call is before 7:00 a.m. leave a message on the voice mail.

For urgent problems after 5PM, please call the page operator at 215-728-6900 and ask to speak with the GI doctor on call.

If you have any questions regarding this please call the Minor Procedure Unit at 215-214-1460 from 9am to 5pm.

Special Conditions
If you have a history of sleep apnea, latex allergy, or have a pacemaker/defibrillator,  please discuss this at the time your procedure is scheduled.

Virtual Colonoscopy
If you are having a Virtual Colonoscopy, the preparation procedure is slightly different. The Radiology Department will provide personalized instructions.

In order for your physician to visualize your colon, your colon must be clean. This involves taking a laxative "prep". While the basic instructions for these formulas are similar, you will receive detailed instructions specifically tailored to you and your medical condition.

Your prep instructions will provide details on how to obtain your prep solution.

Please review your medication sheet at least one week prior to your exam.

  1. If you are on blood-thinning medications, you will receive instructions on when to stop taking them prior to the exam.
    These medications might include
    • aspirin or aspirin-like substances such as Bayer, Ascriptin, Bufferein, Ecotrin, or baby aspirin;
    • any blood thinners such as Coumadin, Heparin, Plavix, Lovenox, Persantine, or Ticlid;
    • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ansaid, Anaprox, Celebrex, Clinoril, Feldene, Naprosyn, Relafen, Vioxx, or Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, etc.)
  2. If you are diabetic, contact your diabetes doctor about the appropriate dose of your medication you should take on the day of your procedure.
  3. Please have any required pre-anesthesia testing done at least 10 days prior to your procedure.
  4. If you have your blood work or an EKG done outside Fox Chase, please have them fax the results to us at 215-214-1717.
  5. Because you will be sedated, you must have a responsible adult present to drive you home from your procedure. However, you do have the option of discussing with your doctor about having a screening colonoscopy without any sedation — hence, no need for a ride. This rarely occurs, but does happen, especially with patients who can’t find a ride although they do want to have a colonoscopy. These patients should have an office visit first before scheduling the procedure.

Two Days Before Your Procedure

You will receive a telephone call from the Endoscopy Unit.  The clinical staff member making this call will review your appointment date/time, prep, and your complete medical history.  This includes your current list of medications.  Please have a complete list of medications ready when called.  This telephone call will take approximately 15 minutes unless your medical history is complicated, then the call may be longer.  Patients scheduled for a Monday will receive their call on the Friday before.  Calls are performed from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.   If you do not hear from them by 4:00 pm, please call the Endoscopy Unit at 215-214-1460.

The Day Before Your Procedure

The day prior to your examination, your will begin preparing by changing your diet as instructed and drinking a solution that will help clear your system to allow for a good examination. Please read your instruction sheet carefully since it will provide you much more details on the prep.

  • Breakfast and Lunch: You can have low-residue meals.
    (You will be provided with a low residue diet sheet)
  • Dinner anytime before 7pm. You may have clear liquids only.
    (You will be provided with a diet sheet)
  • Only drink clear liquids until bedtime.
  • You will need to drink only half of the prep on this day unless instructed otherwise. You will drink the other half on the day of the procedure. This helps keep your colon clean for the examination. When drinking the solution, if you feel full or are experiencing nausea or significant abdominal pain, wait up to 20 minutes before drinking the next glass. You will probably find it easier to drink each glass rapidly instead of sipping it continuously.

The Day of the Procedure

DO NOT eat or drink anything-not even water within 4 hours of your procedure time. This time is clearly indicated on your prep instruction sheet.

  1. You can take your heart, blood pressure, breathing, or seizure medications with a small sip of water.
  2. Bring all required x-rays or CDs with you to the Minor Procedure Unit.
  3. You must have a responsible adult present to drive you home from your procedure,
    as you will be sedated and unable to drive yourself.

    You must have a responsible adult present to drive you home from your procedure, as you will be sedated and unable to drive yourself. During the procedure you will be sedated and these medications can slow your reactions.  Even if you are taking public transportation it is necessary that you have someone with you or arrange to have someone pick you up and accompany you home. We strongly recommend that you make arrangements accordingly, as your procedure may be cancelled if you do not make these arrangements.

    If you choose not to have sedation with your test, you can be permitted to go home by yourself. This should be discussed with your doctor at an office visit before scheduling the procedure.
    (See above.)
  4. Please do not bring valuables to the hospital. You will have a locker for your belongings.

The clinical staff will ask you your name, date of birth, and the procedure you are having done. You will have your blood pressure and pulse taken and a review your medical history will be confirmed.  You will also meet the anesthesia staff and be seen by member(s) of your procedural team.

There is a waiting area for your family or escort.  They may obtain a pager from the front desk.  The pager will allow them to visit the cafe. Once your procedure is complete, your family member or escort will be paged and asked to return to the Unit where you will receive your post-procedure instructions.

Meeting the Anesthesiologist

A member of the anesthesia team will meet with you before your exam to discuss your medical condition, obtain consent for anesthesia and answer your questions. The goal of the anesthesia plan is to keep you safe and comfortable during your procedure.

The member of the anesthesia team providing your anesthesia will stay with you throughout the procedure, and then escort you to the recovery room and provide the nurse(s) in the recovery area with a report of the anesthesia you received.

After the Procedure

You will be monitored in the Recovery Area by the Nursing Staff. Once you are awake your physician will discuss any findings with you prior to discharge. This will only be a preliminary report until the results of all tests are completed.

If you have more questions, please call the Endoscopy Unit at 215-214-1460.
To cancel or reschedule your test, please call 215-214-1421 before 4:30PM. For urgent problems after 5PM, please call the page operator at 215-728-6900 and ask to speak with the "GI doctor on call."