Frequently Asked Questions

Should I change my diet before or after surgery?

Printable Information Sheets
Eat Well To Heal Well
Dried Fruit Fibre Supplement For Constipation

What happens if a cancer is found?

Biopsies will be taken at the time of the procedure, and these results are sent to a pathologist for interpretation. The results will be available within a week. If the surgeon suspects a cancer, or if there is an obvious lesion seen he may request further xrays or scans in the days following the procedure. The surgeon will discuss the initial findings of the examination with you and your support person before you leave the procedure facility, and indicate any suspicions or requests for further investigations. It is not possible for an operation to be done to remove a cancer at the time of the examination. This requires a ‘work-up’, and it will require a general anaesthetic in a hospital operating theatre. This will be discussed with you in the early days following the examination.

Can I drink alcohol prior to the procedure?

Alcohol causes dehydration, and this effect will be made worse if taken in conjunction with the bowel prep. Alcohol may also have an adverse reaction if taken in conjunction with the sedation/pain relief given prior to the procedure, or shortly afterwards.

Printable Information Sheets
Signs Of Dehydration

Can I go back to work after the procedure?

You are encouraged to have the rest of the day at home, resting and recovering. You should not drive or operate machinery, or make important decisions for 24 hours after the procedure if you have been given intravenous sedation and/or pain relief.

Can I drive to and from the procedure?

You may drive yourself to the procedure, although you will be feeling weak and may be light-headed because of the bowel preparation and fasting, so care in your decision about this is needed. You should not drive or operate machinery, or make important decisions for 24 hours after the procedure if you have been given intravenous sedation and/or pain relief.

Can I take herbal medications as usual?

Although these products are labelled as ‘natural’ products, they may have side effects either with the bowel preparation or the sedation. Generally it is safer to discontinue herbal medication a week before the procedure.

Information Sheets
Taking Herbal Medications Before Surgery

How do I know if I am dehydrated when taking bowel prep and how can I avoid it?

Nausea or vomiting, headache, feeling faint, loss of concentration, passing decreased amounts of dark urine are all symptoms of dehydration. When you are taking the bowel preparation and prior to the period when you are ‘nil by mouth’ you need to ensure you have a regular intake of fluid that contains some nutrient and electrolyte replacements. This includes salty drinks, electrolyte replacement drinks, and sweet drinks. Your fluid intake should be at least 2 litres in 24 hours.

Printable Information Sheets
Signs Of Dehydration

Should I stop blood thinning medication?

In most situations you will need to cease blood thinning medication a few days prior, but it depends what medication you are taking, and the reason you are taking it. We need to be informed about any blood thinning medication you are taking well in advance (at least a week) prior to the examination. These medications include WARFARIN, CLOPIDIGREL, DABIGITRAN, DIPYRIDAMOLE , ASPIRIN. In some situations it is safe to continue, in others it is safer to discontinue. And in some situations the procedure may need to be deferred, or alternate medication given. Please inform us of this medication use at the earliest opportunity.

Can I take my diabetic medication?

No, you will need to initially halve, then omit insulin on the day prior to the procedure, and omit oral medication also.

How do I manage my insulin before and during colonoscopy/gastroscopy?

Prior to the procedures, on the evening before following the bowel preparation regime you will need to lessen and then omit insulin, and ensure you test your blood sugar levels frequently. You may be at risk of ‘hypo’s ‘ so you need to ensure you have a regular, small but consistent amount of clear carbohydrate throughout the preparation. Your diabetes educator can give you guidelines to follow. It is important that we are aware of your diabetes and insulin situation so we can make arrangements in advance for you.

Information Sheets
Type 1 Insulin-Dependant Diabetic – Gastroscopy
Type 1 Insulin-Dependant Diabetic – Colonoscopy
Type 2 Diabetes – On Oral Hypoglycaemic Medication – Colonoscopy
Type 2 Diabetes – Not on Insulin – Gastroscopy

 

Can I breast feed after sedation?

 

Anaesthetist advice is that the first feed after sedation is ‘dumped’, as the half-life of Midazolam is 1 ½ – 2 hrs in an adult.  It should be possible to store enough expressed breast milk (prior to the procedure) for one feed.

There is an option to have a short general anaesthetic using different drugs tailored to suit the individual patient

 

Last reviewed 20th June 2017

 

What do I do if the bowel preparation doesn’t work?

The resultant effect from the bowel prep should be the passing of discoloured but watery bowel motions. If you know from previous experiences with bowel prep that the normal dosage isn’t sufficient, please tell the Practice Nurse so arrangements for an extra dose can be provided. If you feel the result is not as expected please phone the Endoscopy Clinic so arrangements can be made to bring you in earlier to administer a small rectal enema.

Can I breastfeed when taking bowel preparation?

This information has been collated from the Medsafe New Zealand website.   Each situation is different, and advice should be taken with caution.

 

Picosalax

Neither sodium picosulfate nor magnesium citrate has been shown to be excreted in breast milk.  As there is no experience with the use of PICOSALAX in nursing mothers, the product should only be used if clearly indicated.

Whilst animal reproduction studies with sodium picosulfate have revealed no evidence of a harmful action on the foetus, clinical experience of the use of PICOSALAX during pregnancy is limited and caution should be observed, particularly during the first trimester.

 

Last reviewed 20th June 2017

Do I need a referral from my GP?

No, but if you are not referred by a GP you would need to come in for a consultation with the surgeon to make sure that you are having the correct procedure. Also some insurance companies require you to have a GP referral.

What is the difference between an Endoscopy and a Gastroscopy/Colonoscopy?

Endoscopy is a nonsurgical procedure used to examine a person’s digestive tract. Using an endoscope, a flexible tube with a light and camera attached to it, your doctor can view pictures of your digestive tract on a color TV monitor. A gastroscopy examines the upper digestive tract, from mouth to the stomach and to the beginning of the small bowel; and a colonoscopy examines the lower digestive tract from the anus, through the entire colon (large bowel) to the junction of the small bowel.

How much red meat or processed meat should I eat?

It is recommended you only eat small amounts of red meat, less than 500g per week. This is about half a cup of mince, two small chops or two slices of roast meat (would fit into the palm of your hand). Choose lean meat and cut off any fat then grill or casserole without adding extra fat or oil. When barbequing, grilling or pan frying meat, try not to overcook it and avoid eating any charred parts. It is recommended you eat very little or no processed meats. See our Information Page for more details.