Understanding Bowel Preparation

Welcome to our Patient Education page!

Our team of specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your digestive system. Please use the search field below to browse our website. You'll find a wide array of information about our office, your digestive health, and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact our office.

Screening or Diagnostic Colonoscopy?

All colonoscopies, whether diagnostic or screening, are billed under the CPT/Procedure code 45378.  The diagnosis or reason for the colonoscopy is what determines if the procedure is diagnostic/surveillance or preventative/screening. 
 

Diagnostic/Surveillance Colonoscopy: 

The patient has past and/or present gastrointestinal symptoms, polyps, GI disease, iron deficiency anemia and/or any other abnormal tests OR the patient is currently asymptomatic (no gastrointestinal symptoms either past or present) but has a personal history of GI disease, personal and/or family history of colon polyps and/or colon cancer.  Patients in this category are required to undergo colonoscopy surveillance at shortened intervals (e.g. every 2-5 years). 

Insurance plans process these claims subject to the individuals deductible and co-insurance requirements.

Preventative Screening Colonoscopy:

The patient is asymptomatic (no gastrointestinal symptoms either past or present), age 50 or greater, has no personal or family history of GI disease, colon polyps, and/or cancer.  The patient has not undergone a colonoscopy within the last 10 years.

Insurance plans usually process these claims under the wellness benefit, payable at 100% if it is a benefit of the individual’s health insurance plan.

Frequently asked questions:

Who will bill me?

You may receive bills for your procedure from the physician, the facility, anesthesia, pathologist and/or laboratory. 

Can the physician change, add, or delete my diagnosis so that my procedure can be considered a preventative/wellness/routine screening?

NO!  The patient encounter is documented as a medical record from the information you have provided, as well as what is obtained during our pre-procedure history and assessment.  It is a binding legal document that cannot be changed to facilitate better insurance coverage.

What if my insurance company tells me that the doctor can change, add or delete a CPT or diagnosis code?

This happens a lot. Often the representative will tell the patient that if the “doctor had coded this as a screening, it would be paid at 100%."  A member services representative should never suggest a physician alter a medical record for billing purposes. 


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FAQS - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long will my procedure take?
A: Plan to spend 2- 2 1/2 hours with us from the time you arrive until when you are released to go home. The procedures themselves are relatively quick.
- An upper endoscopy takes 8-10 minutes, depending on what is found and the need for biopsies.
- A colonoscopy usually takes about 20-25 minutes, again depending on the findings and need for polyp removal, biopsies, etc.
The rest of your stay involves going over the consent prior to the procedure, a physical assessment, taking vital signs, placing an IV and attaching you to a continuous monitor. After the procedure, you will stay under our observation until you are deemed ready to be driven home.
 
Q: Can I drive myself home after the procedure?
A: No. The anesthesia and sedation we use, while relatively short-acting, can have subtle effects for hours after your procedure. Possible drowsiness and delayed reaction times make driving potentially dangerous. Therefore, having someone drive you home is necessary. You may drive and return to normal activities the following day.
 
Q: How soon can I eat and drink after my procedure?
A: Usually immediately after you leave the office, unless you are told otherwise. It is best to avoid heavy meals for that day.
 
Q: Can I take routine medications the day of the procedure?
A: Please do not take any of your medications except those for blood pressure, heart and seizures unless otherwise instructed by your physician.
 
Q: Do I need antibiotics prior to my procedure for an artificial joint?
A: No. The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy has concluded that antibiotic use for a patient with an artificial joint is not necessary.
 
Q: What happens if I begin to vomit during my prep?
A: Wait 1-2 hours to allow your stomach to settle. Start to drink the solution at a slower pace- every 20-30 minutes. This will take longer but should keep you from vomiting the rest of the solution.
 
Q: I have my period. Can I still have my colonoscopy?
A: Yes. This will not interfere with your procedure. You may use a tampon during the procedure.
 
Q: Do I have to drink all of my prep?
A: Yes. You want your colon completely cleaned out. This allows the physician to find and treat the smallest and flattest polyps.
 
Q: I’m diabetic. What precautions should I take?
A: If you are diabetic, we will give you special instructions. You will need to let us know ALL of your medications and doses. You should check your blood sugars periodically throughout the day of the prep and the procedure. Since you are on clear liquids, your blood sugar will tend to drop faster than normal. To avoid this, be sure to include some liquids with sugar.
 
Q: What if I forget to stop my blood thinners?
A: Please contact the office.
 
Q: Can I take over the counter medications with my prep?
A: Most over the counter medications are acceptable except fish oil, aspirin, Motrin, Advil, ibuprofen, Aleve, naprosyn, naproxen or iron supplements. Tylenol will not interfere with your procedure.
 
Q: Is it OK to drink alcohol?
A: NO! We strongly suggest that you avoid all alcohol before your procedure as it can cause dehydration and may thin your blood.
 
Q: Can I brush my teeth?
A: Yes.
 
Q: Can I chew gum or suck on hard candy?
A: Yes, but no red candy or candy with soft centers. Nothing after midnight.
 
Q: What can I take for a headache?
A: Tylenol or Extra-Strength Tylenol only.

This information was developed by the Publications Committee of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). For more information about ASGE, visit www.asge.org.

This information is intended only to provide general guidance. It does not provide definitive medical advice. It is important that you consult your doctor about your specific condition.

 

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Understanding Bowel Preparation Before Colonoscopy

Why is bowel prep important?It is extremely important that your colon be thoroughly cleaned before your colonoscopy. This will let the doctor see any abnormalities, such as colon polyps, during the procedure. Polyps are small growths in the colon that could later turn into cancer. Cleansing the colon before a colonoscopy is called bowel preparation, or "prep." It involves taking medication that causes diarrhea, emptying the colon. The medication is taken by mouth, and comes in liquid or tablet form. You will also need to change what you eat during the day or two before the colonoscopy.

Most bowel preparations involve drinking some prep liquid at two different times. The best way to cleanse the colon is with a “split-dose” bowel preparation. This involves drinking the first portion of the liquid preparation the evening prior to the colonoscopy, and then drinking the second part of the liquid preparation on the day of the colonoscopy. If your colonoscopy is scheduled to start in the morning, you must wake up early in the morning on the day of the colonoscopy to drink the second part of the prep. This can be an inconvenience for some people, but it gives your doctor the best chance of finding polyps or cancers in your colon. Taking both portions of the bowel preparation the evening prior to the colonoscopy, instead of taking the second portion of the prep on the morning of your colonoscopy, is an alternative option for cleansing the bowel. However, studies have shown that taking at least half of the prep solution on the same day as the colonoscopy provides the best bowel cleansing, which improves your doctors ability to find polyps and cancers in your colon. You should not drink any liquids (not even prep solution) within 2-3 hours of your colonoscopy. It is important that you understand the prep instructions given to you by your doctor, which will provide instructions on when you should drink your bowel prep.

What bowel preparations steps are involved before the colonoscopy?

Your doctor will prescribe the type of bowel prep that is best for you. You will receive specific instructions. In general, here is what you can expect:

  • Your doctor will tell you to change your diet at least one day before your colonoscopy. Usually you will need to limit your diet to clear broth, tea, gelatin desserts, ginger ale, sherbet, and clear fruit juices (the ones you can see through), such as apple juice.
  • You need to avoid gelatin desserts and liquids that are red or purple.
  • It is important to avoid dehydration during bowel prep. Drink more fluids than you usually do.
  • Your doctor will tell you exactly when to stop eating and drinking before your colonoscopy.
  • Follow carefully all the steps your doctor prescribes.
  • Most medications can be continued as usual, but some can interfere with either the bowel prep or the colonoscopy. Tell your doctor about all medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter medications, especially aspirin products, arthritis medications, blood thinners, diabetes medications or iron products. Your doctor will have instructions.

Why is bowel prep important?

Many patients feel that the bowel prep is the most difficult part of a colonoscopy. It is important that you try your best to fully complete the prep. After taking the entire bowel prep, you should be passing liquid that is watery or yellow and clear enough to see through. Your bowel must be clean so that your doctor can thoroughly examine your colon and not miss precancerous growths called polyps. If your colon is inadequately cleansed, your doctor may recommend repeating a colonoscopy sooner than if your colon had been properly cleansed.

What are the types of bowel prep?

Several types of bowel prep medications are available. Your physician will recommend which prep you should take. You will need to carefully follow your doctor’s instructions about the exact dose and timing of your prep. Some types of prep may be covered by your medical insurance. You’ll want to find out if you have any out-of-pocket costs.

What determines the type of prep I get?

What determines the type of prep I getYour medical condition is the most important factor in deciding which type of bowel prep is best for you. It is best to share your complete medical history with your doctor. Also, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breast feeding, or if you have a history of bowel obstruction. Let the doctor know if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart, kidney or liver disease, or if you have had any of these diseases in the past. You need to mention any allergies you have to medications to the doctor.

If you have had difficulty with a bowel prep in the past, be sure to mention this as well. Other factors in choosing the type of prep are the time of the colonoscopy appointment, individual preferences (taste and amount of medication), and out-of-pocket costs.

What if I forget to take the medication when I should, or remember too late to finish the prep?

Call your doctor and ask what to do if you are not able to complete the bowel prep as advised. The procedure might need to be canceled and rescheduled.

What are the common side effects of bowel prep?

What are the common side effects of bowel PrepYou should expect to have multiple loose bowel movements with minimal discomfort while doing the prep. However, some people will have nausea, vomiting, bloating (swelling in the abdomen) or abdominal pain. Serious side effects are uncommon. Your doctor will explain the possible side effects of the prep selected for you.

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