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Before Colonoscopy In Children


Before a colonoscopy,

your child's colon needs to be cleaned out. This is called a bowel prep or a colon prep. Your child's healthcare provider may tell you to start his bowel prep 1 to 2 days before his colonoscopy. He may instead tell you to start his prep the night before his colonoscopy. Your child's bowel movements should look yellow to light brown and be liquid. Your child should not have solids in his bowel movements.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child cannot finish his bowel prep.
  • Your child's bowel movements are not clear after he finishes his bowel prep.
  • Your child has a fever or is sick.

Types of bowel prep:

Your child may need any of the following medicines to help clean out his colon:

  • Polyethylene glycol is a laxative medicine that helps your child have soft and frequent bowel movements. This medicine may come in a large container of liquid. Your child may need to drink this medicine over 4 to 6 hours.
  • Bisacodyl is a laxative medicine that will help make it easier for your child to have a bowel movement. It may be given with polyethylene glycol as a pill or a suppository.
  • Magnesium citrate is a laxative medicine that will help make it easier for your child to have a bowel movement. It may be given alone or with other laxative medicines.

Support your child during bowel prep:

Bowel prep may be difficult for both you and your child. The medicine may cause your child to have stomach discomfort and nausea. He may feel embarrassed about having to make frequent bathroom trips, and he may have accidents. You may need to encourage your child several times to drink the medicine. The following may help you and your child:

  • Prepare your child. Talk to your child about the bowel prep and his colonoscopy, a few days before it will start. Tell him what he will need to do and what he can expect. Also tell him why it is important to take all of the medicine. This may make it easier for him to take the medicine and be ready for his procedure.
  • Plan your child's bowel prep. Set goals with your child about how much medicine he needs to drink at one time. Plan quiet activities such as watching TV or playing games. Be sure that your child has access to a nearby bathroom. If you have to leave the house, bring extra clothes in case he has an accident.
  • Have your child use soft wipes. This may help his rectum from getting sore from frequent wiping.
  • Mix the laxative medicines with sports drinks as directed. The taste of the medicine may make it difficult for your child to drink. Ask your child's healthcare provider about sports drinks or juices that the medicine can be mixed with.
  • Prevent dehydration in your child. Follow instructions for a clear liquid diet before the colonoscopy. Your child may become dehydrated from having frequent bowel movements. You may be able to prevent dehydration by giving your child plenty of clear liquids or breastfeeding as directed. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid your child needs during his bowel prep.

Clear liquid diet before a colonoscopy:

Your child may be on a clear liquid diet 1 to 2 days before his colonoscopy. Clear liquids are liquids that you can easily see through. Do not give your child clear liquids that are red or purple. Do not give your child solid foods, milk, milk products, or juice with pulp. If your child is breastfeeding, ask how long you should stop breastfeeding before the procedure. The following are examples of clear liquids:

  • Water
  • Gelatin
  • Clear soft drinks, such as ginger ale
  • Clear juice without pulp, such as apple juice
  • Broth
  • Oral rehydration solution
  • Sports drinks

Bowel prep in the hospital:

If your child cannot complete his bowel prep at home or has severe nausea and vomiting, he may need to spend the night before his procedure in the hospital. His healthcare provider may insert a nasogastric tube (NG tube) so that he can receive his bowel prep. A NG tube is a small, plastic tube that is inserted through your child's nose and into his stomach. Healthcare providers will use a syringe to inject the medicine for bowel prep through the tube and into your child's stomach. Healthcare providers can give your child medicine to prevent nausea vomiting and help him finish his bowel prep.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.