Surgical bowel prep – frequently asked questions

What happens if I don't take the prescribed bowel prep?

Your surgery may be canceled and rescheduled depending on its nature.

I'm allergic to one of the oral antibiotics. What should I do?

If you have an allergy to one of the oral antibiotics, don't take it until you've discussed it with your providers in the Center for Digestive Diseases. We may have you take only one of the antibiotics or prescribe an alternate.

I missed one of my doses of bowel preparation oral antibiotics (erythromycin and/or neomycin). What should I do?

If you can take it within 30 minutes of the scheduled time, continue taking it. If not, take the next dose at the next appropriate time—if you missed the last dose at the scheduled time, you may take it with a sip of water as long as it's at least two hours prior to surgery.

Why was I prescribed an enema(s) rather than an oral lavage.

For some procedures, only the last part of the intestine needs to be cleaned out. This can be done effectively with one or more enemas.

I wasn't prescribed a bowel preparation for my upcoming intestinal surgery. Is that OK?

If you are having surgery on your intestine and weren't aware of being given a bowel preparation, please check with the Digestive Health Center to assure that you shouldn't have one. Communication errors sometimes happen, and it is best to verify that no bowel preparation was intended.

Last reviewed: 
July 2016

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