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Thank you for choosing Tufts Medical Center's GI Motility Service. We have provided the below instructions to ensure that your time in our care is as pleasant and safe as possible. Please read all instructions carefully before your colonoscopy procedure as these directions are critical to your health and safety. Failure to follow these directions may lead to a cancelled colonoscopy.

The procedure and what to expect

A colonoscopy is an examination of the colon (large intestine) with a flexible instrument called a colonoscope. The colonoscope has a light at the end of the device with a camera to allow direct visualization of the colon lining.

A colonoscopy is performed to evaluate symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, rectal bleeding and lower abdominal pain or to screen for colon cancer and colon polyps (growths in the colon). It is performed by a doctor (gastroenterologist) trained in endoscopy. The colonoscopy is performed after ingesting a laxative solution, which will cleanse the colon. You will be given medication prior to and during the procedure to make you comfortable: most patients fall asleep or nap, and you will most likely have little or no awareness of the procedure.

Planning for your appointment

The Tufts Medical Center GI Motility Unit is located on the third floor in the Proger building. To find information on directions, parking and our campus map, visit the hospital locations and directions page >

Plan to spend about three hours in our unit for your procedure. We will do everything possible to avoid a delay, but emergencies may interrupt the schedule. Please arrive 30 minutes prior to the scheduled procedure time.

When preparing to come to the Medical Center for your appointment, please be sure to first:

  • Be sure you have an insurance referral, if required by your insurance company.
  • Be prepared to pay any co-payment on the day of your procedure.
  • Please arrange for an adult escort, 18 years or older, to take you home after the procedure (more info below).
  • Please bring the following items with you:
    • Your completed medical questionnaire and list of medication(s).
    • Your hospital card.

Please arrange for an adult escort, 18 years or older, to take you home after the procedure. You will be receiving sedation and you should not drive until the next day. Your escort does not have to come with you when you check in but MUST meet you in the Endoscopy Unit on Proger 3 when you are ready to go home. You are still required to have an adult escort, 18 years or older, if you plan to take the T, taxi, ride sharing service, THE RIDE or are walking home. If you do not have an escort on the day of your procedure, your procedure will be CANCELLED and RESCHEDULED. 

*If you are above 60 years of age and need an escort home, volunteer escorts may be available if scheduled 2 weeks in advance. 

If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call us at least 48 hours in advance to re-schedule: 617-636-0142.

Preparing for the procedure

FIVE DAYS before your procedure

  • Plan to purchase the colon preparation at the pharmacy with the enclosed prescription.
  • Please review and complete the medical questionnaire and medication list (see enclosed).
  • If you have diabetes and take medication to control your blood sugar, contact your primary care physician or diabetes doctor for instructions about how to take your diabetes medication while preparing for the procedure.
  • If you take any BLOOD THINNING MEDICATIONS OTHER THAN ASPIRIN (for example: Coumadin (Warfarin), Eliquis, Pradaxa, Xarelto, Plavix, Brillinta, Lovenox), contact your primary care physician or heart doctor for instructions on if and when to stop these medications prior to your procedure.  ASPIRIN may be continued prior to the procedure.
  • Stop taking iron or multivitamins with iron. Iron may darken your color.
  • Start a low fiber diet and do not eat corn, raw vegetables, or take fiber supplements (Metamucil). You may restart your regular diet again after the procedure.

TWO DAYS before your procedure

  • Be sure you have the colon preparation from your pharmacy.

ONE DAY before your procedure

  • Follow the instructions given on this form. DO NOT follow instructions on prep bottles.
  • Begin a clear liquid diet for the entire day, no solid food. A clear liquid diet includes any liquids you can see through such as water, tea, black coffee, clear broth, apple juice, Gatorade, white grape juice, soda, Jell-O (not RED). Do not drink anything RED. Do not drink milk or dairy products.
  • Begin to drink the colon preparation between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM. If you are not tolerating the prep well, wait an hour then start again. If you still cannot tolerate the prep, please call.  You may want to use a straw to sip the solution.
  • If you are scheduled to arrive before 12 noon, please drink the entire colon preparation before midnight.
  • If you are scheduled to arrive after 12 noon, you will do what is called a “SPLIT PREP”.  For a “split prep” please take half of the colon preparation at 6:00 PM on the evening before your procedure and half in the morning, to be finished by 8:00 AM on the day of your procedure.


  • Two days before the procedure, begin a clear liquid diet, no solid food. A clear liquid diet includes any liquids you can see through such as water, tea, black coffee, clear broth, apple juice, Gatorade, white grape, soda, Jell-O (not RED). DO NOT eat or drink anything RED. Do not drink milk or other dairy products.
  • Split the colon preparation over two nights, drink one colon preparation two nights before and the other one night before. For both nights, begin drinking the colon preparation between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM. You should try to drink the whole bottle before midnight.


  • Start drinking preparation in the afternoon between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM so you can finish and get a good night’s sleep.
  • Keep drinking even if you have not had a bowel movement.
  • You can add Crystal Light to the preparation (any color but red, but no other additives).
  • You can suck on lifesavers or hard candy between glasses of preparation.
  • After mixing the preparation, place it in the refrigerator. Some patients feel it is easier to drink when it is cold.
  • If you develop nausea, wait 30 minutes then resume drinking but smaller amounts.
  • Baby wipes can help irritation from repetitive defecation. 

Day of the procedure

  • Take all of your usual medication with a sip of water, unless otherwise instructed by your primary care physician.
  • Your bowel MUST be empty to clearly view your colon and remove polyps.
  • Please arrive 30 minutes prior to the scheduled time.
  • Wear loose fitting comfortable clothes.
  • Remember to bring your hospital card and list of medications.

After the procedure

  • You will be monitored in the Endoscopy Unit recovery area for approximately one hour.
  • You will receive diet and medication instruction after your procedure.
  • You may return to work the day after the procedure.
The entrance to the Marlene Neely Center for Digestive Health

The Marlene Neely Center for Digestive Health

The Marlene Neely Center for Digestive Health provides one home for GI procedures including clinical exams, screening colonoscopies and complex GI procedures.

Read more about the Center