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patient education : 03116--MiraLAX Colonoscopy Bowel Prep Instructions

MiraLAX colonoscopy bowel prep instructions with checklist and diet instructions

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    Colonoscopy Bowel Prep Instructions


    Two weeks before your colonoscopy:

    ¨ You will need to purchase (1) 238gm bottle of MiraLAX® (polyethylene glycol), (4) Dulcolax® (bisacodyl) laxative tablets, (2) 32oz bottle of Gatorade®, not red or purple in color.

    ¨ If you are on medications (other than aspirin) that thin your blood or if you take medications for diabetes, you will need to let your family doctor know you are planning to have a colonoscopy and ask for instructions regarding this medication.

    ¨ Please note that UVA performs colonoscopies at two locations. Please confirm your location by referring to your appointment reminder letter.


    Five days before your colonoscopy:

    ¨ Start a low fiber diet. Low Residue/ Low Fiber food list attached.

    ¨ Stop iron, including vitamins that contain iron.

    ¨ Arrange a ride home with a friend or family member.

    ¨ Have plenty of clear liquids available at home, clear liquid diet attached.

    ¨ If you wish, buy soft toilet paper, moist wipes or external ointment.


    One day before your colonoscopy:

    ¨ When you wake mix half of the MiraLAX® bottle into your (2) Gatorade® bottles until dissolved and place in the refrigerator.

    ¨ Drink only clear liquids all day. Drink an additional 8oz of clear liquid every hour while awake, Gatorade® is preferred. Follow the lists on Page 4. Do not eat solid foods or milk products.

    ¨ At 4:00pm take (4) Dulcolax® laxative tablets with water.

    ¨ At 6:00pm begin drinking the first bottle of Gatorade®/MiraLAX® solution. Drink 8oz every 15-30 minutes until the first bottle of the solution is finished.

    ¨ Continue to drink clear liquids until you go to bed. Stay close to a bathroom. Cleaning your colon causes diarrhea. 


    Day of your colonoscopy:

    ¨ Finish drinking the second bottle of Gatorade®/MiraLAX® solution 3 hours before your procedure. You may need to start in the middle of the night for an early am procedure. Timing is essential.

    ¨ You may continue to drink clear liquids for up to 2 hours before coming to UVA.

    ¨ Arrive 45 minutes before your scheduled appointment time with a responsible adult who will be able to accompany you home.

    ¨ You must bring your CPAP machine with you if you have sleep apnea.


    Frequently Asked Questions:

    Why Is It Important To Get Cleaned Inside? Your doctor must be able to see in order to complete the colonoscopy exam. If your colon is “dirty” on the inside, your doctor may not be able to see important things like polyps or cancer.

    Is My Prep Working? The bowel movement coming out should look like fluids you are drinking – clear without many particles.  You know you are done when the bowel movement coming out is yellow, light, liquid, and clear, like urine.

    What are the effects of the “bowel prep?” You will have lots of diarrhea from the bowel prep. This will start anywhere from a few minutes to 3 hours after you start your prep. Many people have bloating, abdominal discomfort, and/or nausea. Some people do not like the taste or smell of the medicine. Please do not let this get in the way of taking the medicine as directed. 

    Rarely, some people throw up while taking the prep. If you throw up, stop taking the prep for 30-60 minutes. Then try taking the prep again. If you are unable to finish the bowel prep, your colon may not be clean enough for your exam.

    Can I drive myself home after my colonoscopy? No. For your comfort, you will receive sedation during your procedure. You will need to have a responsible adult take you home.  He or she must be with you when you register and must remain near the facility until you are discharged. 

    Why do I need my CPAP machine?  Sedation or anesthesia during your procedure is like sleeping but much deeper.  It is very important to use your CPAP during the procedure to maximize you breathing safely.  This is true even if you rarely use your CPAP.

    How long will the procedure take? The exam itself takes about 45 minutes. However, time is required to prepare you for the colonoscopy; this is why we ask you to arrive 45 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. You will also require time to recover after your exam.  Expect to spend about 2-3 hours at UVA. 

    My prep hasn't started working yet. What do I do? Different people respond differently to the bowel prep. If you have waited more than 3 hours without a response, then it may not be working well. Be sure you are drinking enough fluid.  If that doesn’t work, drink the second part of your prep and continue to drink fluids. It should work eventually. Call the UVA Endoscopy Unit at 434-982-0225 after 8 am on the morning of your procedure if the medicine is still not working.



     Follow this diet FIVE DAYS before your Colonoscopy.

    You will return to your regular diet after the procedure. 





    Refined breads, toast, rolls, biscuits, muffins, crackers, pancakes, and waffles.

    Enriched white or light rye bread or rolls. Saltines, Melba toast

    Refined ready-to-eat cereals such as puffed rice and puffed wheat Cooked refined wheat, corn, or rice cereal

    Strained oatmeal, grits and farina

    Refined cold cereals made from rice, corn or oats (Rice Krispies, Cornflakes, Cheerios)

    White rice, refined pasta, macaroni, noodles



    Most tender cooked and canned vegetables without seeds such as carrots, asparagus tips, beets, green or waxed beans, pumpkin, spinach, squash (acorn) without seeds, potato (no skin), pureed or cooked strained lima beans, and peas (no skin)



    Most canned or cooked fruits, fruit cocktail, avocado, canned applesauce, apricots, peaches, pears (all without skin and seeds), pureed plums and ripe bananas

    Strained fruit juice



    Milk, mild cheese, cottage cheese Yogurt (no berries)

    Ice Cream (no fruit or nuts)

    *limit milk/milk products to 2 cups per day



    Ground or well-cooked, tender beef, lamb, ham, veal, pork, fish, shellfish, poultry (no skin), and organ meats, eggs

    Smooth peanut butter



    Margarine, butter, vegetable oils, mayo, cream substitutes, Crisp bacon

    Plain gravies, and salad dressings


    Broth, strained cream soups (no corn) made with allowed ingredients


    Salt, soy sauce, ketchup

    Mild spices in moderation, white sauce Sugar, honey, jelly, syrup

    Lemon juice, vinegar, vanilla and other flavoring extracts Coffee, tea, carbonated beverages and fruit drink (without pulp)



    Any bread product made with whole-grain flour or graham flour, bran, seeds, nuts, coconut, or raw or dried fruit, cornbread, and graham crackers Any whole-grain, bran, or granola cereal, oatmeal and cereal with seeds, nuts, coconut or dried fruit Bran, barley, brown and wild rice








    Raw vegetables and vegetables with seeds, sauerkraut, winter squash, and peas






    Raw or dried fruit, all berries,  Prune juice




    Yogurt containing fruit skins or seeds





    Tough fibrous meats with gristle, shellfish with tough connective tissue

    Meats prepared with whole-grain ingredients, seeds, or nuts

    Dry beans, legumes, peas and lentils Chunky peanut butter

    Raw clams and oysters



    Any made with whole-grain flour, bran, nuts, seeds, coconut, or dried fruit

    Nuts,  and popcorn

    Raisins, seeds, seed spices, pickles, olives, Spicy mustards, and relish

    Highly spiced salad dressings

    Jam or marmalade with nuts and seeds



    Beverages and gelatins that are red or purple in color up to 24hrs. prior to procedure




     Follow this diet ONE DAY before your Colonoscopy.

    You will return to your regular diet after the procedure. 


    Do not drink


    • Water (plain, carbonated or flavored)
    • Fruit juices without pulp, such as apple or white grape juice
    • Fruit-flavored beverages, such as fruit punch or lemonade
    • Carbonated drinks, including dark sodas

                      (cola and root beer)

    • Gelatin (Jell-O)
    • Tea or coffee without milk or cream
    • Sports drinks
    • Clear, fat-free broth (bouillon or consommé)
    • Honey or sugar
    • Ice pops without ANY milk, bits of fruit, seeds or nuts


    • Anything red or purple. These liquids can look like blood in the colon.
    • Milk
    • Artificial creamers
    • Fruit or vegetable smoothies
    • Alcohol









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