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Gastro Procedure FAQs

Common questions about colonoscopy and endoscopy

It’s normal to have a lot of questions about an upcoming colonoscopy or endoscopy procedure. Here are some of the most common questions we hear from patients.

What if I can’t make my arrival time?
If you can’t make your arrival time, call us at 218.249.3739 and we will schedule you for a later check-in time.

How can I make sure that I am well-prepared for my colonoscopy?
Here’s how to make sure you are well-prepared:

  • Eat a low-fiber diet the week before your procedure.
  • Follow a clear liquid diet the day before your exam.
  • Along with the recommended laxative, drink additional liquids to help flush out your colon.
  • When you are done drinking your bowel prep solution, your stool should be clear or pale yellow in color, and all liquid. It is normal to continue producing liquid stool and having to use the bathroom frequently.

What if I have a history of constipation?
If you have history of constipation, purchase additional laxatives when getting ready for your bowel prep. You can use Miralax a few times a day the week prior to your colonoscopy. Keeping your fiber intake low and lightening your meals will also help optimize your bowel prep.

What if my stool is still solid or brown the morning of my procedure?
If your stool is still solid or brown the morning of your procedure, let us know by calling 218.249.3739. We will work through a solution or move back your procedure.

We may have you take additional laxatives. We generally recommend taking 4 ounces of Miralax mixed in 32 ounces of water, juice or a sports drink (not red or purple). You could also drink 10 ounces of magnesium citrate followed by 8 ounces of water.

If you come for your procedure and there is still stool in your colon, we will not be able to complete your exam and will have to reschedule you for a later date.

What if I did not follow the low-fiber diet one week prior to my colonoscopy?
We advise that you follow the low fiber diet to make your bowel prep easier. However, if you still follow the clear liquid diet and drink the laxative as instructed you should have no problems cleaning out your colon.

What if I accidentally eat or drink something red or purple?
If you accidentally eat or drink something red or purple, we will not cancel your procedure. However, we ask that you avoid these items as much as possible, as they can mimic blood in the colon and we want to ensure you get the best test possible.

Is it okay to take my medication(s) the morning of my procedure?
Most medications are fine to take the morning of your procedure. However, we recommend that you do not take:

If you take blood thinners, be sure to talk to your doctor before you stop taking them. Make sure it is okay for you not to take these and ask when it is safe for you to restart them. Typically, it is safe to resume taking other medications after your procedure, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.

What if I forgot to stop my iron supplements?
It is okay to continue with your procedure even if you take your iron supplements. Iron can turn your stools to appear dark or mimic blood in the colon, so make sure you let us know.

I am a diabetic. Is it okay that my procedure is in the afternoon?
If we are unable to accommodate your needs of a morning procedure, know that most diabetic patients do not experience a drop in blood sugars. It is okay to follow a liquid diet up to 3 hours prior to your procedure. This way, if your blood sugars do drop it is okay to have a glass of juice, gelatin, soda or popsicles. We recommend that you monitor your blood sugars closely and let us know right away if you are experiencing complications the morning of your procedure.

What if I become nauseated or vomit while drinking the bowel prep solution?
The recommended bowel preps involve drinking a lot of liquid and can cause bloating. It is normal for patients to experience nausea and even vomit during the clean-out process. Here are some things you can do if you become nauseated:

  • Take a break from drinking the solution until the nausea has passed. Once you are feeling better, resume drinking.
  • If you need to space out the time between glasses, that’s okay.
  • Drink some lemon-line soda.
  • Suck on a small piece of ginger or drink ginger tea.

Can I have anything to drink the morning of my procedure?
It is okay to drink approved clear liquids up to 3 hours prior to your procedure. Please refer to and follow the clear liquid diet handout.

Does the person who will be driving me home have to come into the building for my procedure?
While you will need a responsible adult to drive you home from your procedure, it is not required that they be with you in the building. You may have someone drop you off, and we will call them to pick you up when you are ready to go home. Visitor policies are subject to change at any time. Please contact us a few days prior if you have specific questions about the current policy or refer to St. Luke’s Visitor Policy.

How long will my procedure take?
A typical colonoscopy or endoscopy takes about 30 minutes. Your total visit will take approximately 2 to 3 hours, from admission to discharge. This can take longer, depending on the difficultly or work associated with the procedure. If you are scheduled to have an upper and lower endoscopy it will take about one hour to complete both.

Will my doctor talk to me after the procedure?
When your procedure is over, you will be brought back to your pre-procedure room. There, a nurse will ensure that your vitals are stable and determine when you are ready to go home. The nurse will also review your procedure report and any recommendations your doctor has made. If you would like to talk to your doctor after the procedure, let your nurse know. Your doctor can come to your room to answer any questions you may have.

Will I have any pain following my procedure?
Most patients don’t have any pain after a colonoscopy or endoscopy. Occasionally, patients will experience a sore throat after an upper endoscopy or general anesthesia. This should resolve 1-2 days follow the procedure. A sore throat can be relieved by sucking on lozenges, drinking warm liquids and avoiding sharp foods such as chips.

Will I have to pick up any medications following my procedure?
Most patients will not need a prescription after a colonoscopy or endoscopy. However, your doctor orders you a prescription, we can send it over to your pharmacy. Please ensure we have the correct pharmacy listed when you come in for your procedure.

How will I feel after my procedure?
Most people feel back to normal right away after a colonoscopy or endoscopy. The sedation medicine we use has anti-nausea properties and wears off very quickly.

Can I resume regular activities following a colonoscopy or endoscopy?
Even though you will feel back to normal, we advise that you do not work or drive until the next morning. It is okay resume your regular diet and medications, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. We also recommend no alcohol following your procedure.

Is bleeding common after an endoscopy or colonoscopy?
Bleeding is rare but can happen if you have biopsies or polyps removed. Bleeding can occur up to 1-2 weeks following a procedure. If you begin to pass large clots of blood, vomit blood or pass dark stool, contact your gastroenterologist or go to the emergency department.

If you have any additional questions, call 218.249.3739.

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