Colorectal cancer, or cancer of the colon, is responsible for many of the cancer related deaths in the United States every year. It is also largely preventable through screenings, including colonoscopies. Intermountain Healthcare is committed to decreasing instances of colon cancer in Utah and the surrounding regions by ensuring colonoscopies are convenient, available, and performed by expert doctors and caregivers at an affordable cost. 

Colonoscopies are often associated with foreign liquids and discomfort; however, at Intermountain Healthcare, we are devoted to making your colonoscopy as quick and comfortable as possible. We partner with you to help you understand how a colonoscopy is performed, how to prep for your colonoscopy, and what your results mean. 

In order to have a successful colonoscopy, you must carefully prepare your body. Please follow these instructions as you prepare for your exam (Specific laxative instructions are at the end of this page):
  • Stop these medications: For seven days before the exam, avoid the use of Vitamin E above 400 international units (IU), fiber supplements, iron supplements, fish oil, and flax seed oil. If you take Aspirin as instructed by your doctor for a heart or stroke condition, continue to take this medication. If you are taking any other blood thinner (i.e., Coumadin, Plavix, Effient, Xarelto, etc), please ask your doctor if it is ok to stop the medication for five days prior to the exam. Please inform us if you are unable to stop these medications or if you need to use Lovenox/Heparin prior to the colonoscopy.
  • Avoid nuts, seeds, raw vegetables or fruits with skin or seeds for two days before the procedure, as these can affect the quality of the colonoscopy preparation.
  • You can continue taking medications for asthma, anti-anxiety, hypertension, and seizures — unless your doctor tells you otherwise. If you usually take them in the morning, take them with just a sip of water on the morning of the procedure. 
  • If you’re diabetic and on insulin, check with the doctor that prescribes it. You may need to change the dosage for the day before or the day of the procedure. Bring your insulin with you to the procedure. If you take non-insulin medications (i.e., metformin), do not take them the morning of the procedure unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.
  • If you have asthma, bring your inhalers with you. 
  • Arrange transportation: Due to the sedation you will be given, you will need a driver to drive you home. You will also be asked not to drive for 12 hours afterwards. Please ensure you have transportation arrangements made. The total time you can expect to be at the Endoscopy center is about 2-3 hours.

The Day Before Your Exam

In order to properly examine your colon, the inside of your intestinal tract must be clean. You must follow these diet and laxative instructions exactly. Please do not eat any solid food the day before your procedure. You will be on a clear liquid diet all day. A clear liquid diet means:

  • No milk or milk products 
  • No alcoholic beverages 
  • No solid foods 
  • Nothing that is red or purple 
  • You can have water, clear broth, and coffee/tea (without milk or non-dairy creamer) 
  • You can also have — if not red or purple — sports drinks, ice popsicles, carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, Kool-Aid, plain Jell-O (without toppings), and strained fruit juices (without pulp) like apple, orange, white cranberry, white grape, lemonade and limeade 
  • Drink a variety of clear liquids. Please avoid drinking only water.
You need to drink a lot of clear liquids to flush your system.

Starting in the morning of the day before your procedure, you need to drink at least 20 eight-ounce glasses of clear liquid throughout the day. Continue drinking lots of fluids through the night and up to two hours before your procedure. The more fluids you drink the better you’ll feel — it will keep you from getting hungry and weak, and will make the laxative easier to tolerate.

Colon Preparation

You will need to drink a laxative prep solution to clean your colon. From the list below, select the prep that you have received. You will get detailed instructions on how to properly take the laxative. While the prep instructions may say to have regular food for breakfast (on the day before the procedure), for optimal cleaning it is strongly recommended you be on a clear liquid diet from morning onward.

Regardless of the prep you received, it should be taken in a ‘split-dose.’ That means you will take half of the prep on the evening before the procedure and the other half in the morning. You should finish the prep at least four hours before you are scheduled for your colonoscopy. Do not drink any other liquids within three hours of your scheduled procedure.

Your bowel movements should be clear and may be light yellow or green in color. However, there should not be any brown particulate material. If you are not clean enough, it may increase the risk of missing polyps and other lesions. 


© 2018 Intermountain Healthcare. All rights reserved. The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.