Georgia P., Massachusetts, USA: A full bowel prep (clear liquids
only for twenty-four hours, "sparkling" laxative etc., no
fluids during the last twelve hours) is a "must" if the doctor
orders it. If the intestines or bowel are even "nicked" at
any time during surgery, there is the possibility of contamination of
the surgical field, as well as the possibility that the organ can not
be resected (partially removed and reattached) if necessary. To ensure
the surgeon will be able to address any issues he discovers, it is very
important to follow instructions to the letter, for your own safety.
For a complete explanation check out this Pre-Op
Guide, prepared by a surgeon, especially the section on how to prepare
D., Pennsylvania, USA: My bowel prep seemed more
rigorous than some of the others (but then I only had
to have a catheter for one day--some consolation! ;-).
I had to go on a liquid diet for two days before surgery
(clear liquids the second day), take magnesium citrate
(a laxative) in the evening both days, and have an enema
both days, though by the second day there was not much
left to come out, frankly!
My surgeon explained
that any abdominal surgery that exposes the colon causes it to "just
paralyze" for a while and it doesn't "wake up" until
it's good and ready! That's why we all wait for the magic moment of
"passing gas" after surgery before we can go home.
for the full prep is that the surgeon also checks for any evidence of
cancer spread to the colon by "running the bowel" (her words)
--- actually examining it manually to feel any lumps, polyps, etc. Obviously,
it would have to be empty, since feeling particles of stool could issue
You can imagine
how much the intestines like that! That's why it takes several weeks
to get back to normal bowel function. During this time, the intestines
also re-arrange themselves and this also causes some post-surgical discomfort.