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Getting ready

Once you've been referred you'll get a letter, in the post or by email, telling you when your colonoscopy will be.

Some hospitals will phone you to book you in, but you should also get a letter – call the hospital if you do not get one.

Your letter will:

  • tell you what you need to eat and drink in the days before your test
  • tell you when you should stop eating and drinking
  • have laxatives with it for you to take before the test, or information on how to get them
  • tell you how to take the laxatives


If you're pregnant, or taking any medicines, let the hospital know as soon as you get your letter.

For 2 days before a colonoscopy, you should only eat plain foods like:

  • plain chicken not in a sauce
  • white rice, pasta or bread
  • clear soup

Your letter should tell you what you can eat and drink.

The day before your colonoscopy you'll need to drink sachets of laxatives to empty your bowels ready for the test.

Most people:

  • need to drink a few sachets
  • need to drink the sachets at different points throughout the day
  • get diarrhoea a few hours after taking the first sachet

Stay at home and be near a toilet after you've starting drinking the laxatives.


You need to drink the laxative as it says on your letter. Otherwise the specialist may not be able to do your colonoscopy.