Is There Much Preparation Needed For Endoscopy?
For gastroscopy, Capsule Endoscopy and examination of bile and pancreatic ducts, a patient only needs to fast for at least 8 hours prior to the examination, usually overnight, but can drink water if thirsty. This causes minimal inconvenience.
For colonoscopy, in order for the endoscopist to see clearly, a patient needs to take some gentle laxatives prior to the examination to clear the bowels of all stools. A few hours must be spent clearing the bowels and this can usually be done comfortably at home. Typically, one cup of a laxative is taken in the evening and the process of bowel cleansing begun before bedtime. Then a second cup of a different laxative is taken early on the morning of the examination to complete the bowel preparation. Depending on the patient’s situation, other types of bowel preparation solutions may be offered, such as Polyethylene Glycol.
All modern bowel preparation solutions are generally very easy to take and quite tolerable. Some patients find the taste a bit salty and need to drink plain water or a clear beverage such as 7-Up to cleanse the palate. If it is difficult to drink the bowel preparation solutions all at once, patients can sip it gradually instead. It is best to consume all the solutions prescribed to have the best chance of having a bowel that is clean enough for a thorough examination to be made.
Mental preparation is also important! Some patients have heard horror stories from friends or relatives, often from other countries, that endoscopy was very uncomfortable. It is true that in some places endoscopy is performed without any or with only minimal sedation, due to lack of resources and time to titrate the sedative to the patient’s comfort and time to let the patient gently wake from the sedative before discharge from the endoscopy unit. But in modern practice, the philosophy is that patients are not allowed to be uncomfortable! So patient should not be worried about others’ experiences which may be in entirely different circumstances from themselves and trust us that we aim to provide maximum comfort.