How to Clean a Colon Before Surgery

Comfortable hospital bed
Bowel prep is often done at home before surgery. (Image: FhaSud/iStock/Getty Images)

Various medical procedures, such as a colonoscopic polypectomy to remove polyps, require an empty colon to perform the surgery. A patient will likely be given a prescription for a bowel preparation kit to cleanse the colon. If the procedure is carried out while a patient is currently in the hospital, an enema or similar colon cleansing procedure will be administered. The bowel prep is completed at home about 24 hours before the procedure.

Step 1

Purchase the prescribed bowel prep and read all instructions several days before you are to begin the process of cleansing the colon. Be sure you have everything you need to carry out the instructions. Some medical facilities may send you home with the kit and instructions.

Step 2

Begin the colon prep diet 24 hours before the procedure unless your doctor has advised you differently. The diet typically consists of liquids only. Recommended choices include chicken broth, gelatin and plenty of water.

Step 3

Begin the bowel prep kit the night before the procedure, about 12 hours before your scheduled appointment unless your doctor has suggested something different. The first step in the kit is often labeled as step one or it may just state magnesium citrate on the bottle.

Step 4

Pour the bottle of magnesium citrate over a glass of ice and drink it over several minutes. Follow it with at least three 8 oz. glasses of water or clear liquids. These glasses of water should be drank quickly instead of sipped and finished within 60 minutes of the magnesium citrate.

Step 5

Stay close to the restroom following the first step of the bowel prep. Frequent liquid bowel movements will begin within a few hours. Use soft toilet tissue or personal care wipes to wipe after each bowel movement to reduce irritation.

Step 6

Apply over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream to any sore tissues of the anus or hemorrhoids if they develop. The cream can reduce pain, itching and inflammation.

Step 7

Begin the second step of the bowel prep about two hours after the first or as directed by the kit. This second solution is called PEG lavage solution. Consume 8 oz. of this solution every 15 minutes until you have finished eight glasses over the course of two hours. This solution should be swallowed quickly or sucked through a straw.

Step 8

Drink only clear liquids after the PEG lavage solution until bed.

Step 9

Wake up several hours before the procedure to give you time to finish the last half of the PEG lavage solution. This last step should be started at least four hours before the appointment.

Step 10

Drink two full 8 oz. glasses of the PEG lavage solution over the course of 30 minutes. Loose bowel movements may occur after this last step but they may be less frequent due to the colon being mostly cleansed. Don't drink or eat anything before the procedure except for the PEG lavage solution.

Things You'll Need

  • Bowel prep kit

  • Water

  • Soft toilet tissue

  • Personal care wipes

  • Hemorrhoid cream

  • Clear liquids

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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