Colonoscopy & Prep 101

What Is a Colonoscopy?

A potentially lifesaving procedure in need of a better reputation

A colonoscopy is a routine, generally safe, and relatively painless procedure that allows healthcare providers to see the lining of the colon. There’s a little dread surrounding a colonoscopy, but it could save your life. A colonoscopy is the gold standard for detection and prevention of colorectal cancer (CRC).

The risk of CRC

  • CRC is the third leading cause of death from cancer in the US
  • On average, 1 in 20 people are at risk for CRC (this can vary widely according to individual risk factors)1
  • An estimated in 1 in 3 people diagnosed with CRC in the US die1

A colonoscopy can prevent CRC

  • A colonoscopy is one of the only cancer screenings where potential cancers can be removed during the exam
  • Up to 90% of all CRC cases and deaths are preventable with early detection through timely screening2
  • A colonoscopy can also help healthcare providers diagnose other gastrointestinal disorders

Your colonoscopy experience


your colonoscopy, you’ll prepare with a colonoscopy prep, like PREPOPIK, as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Starting the day before, you’ll do your prep at home–and remember, it’s an extremely important step that can impact the outcome of the procedure.

At the start

of your colonoscopy, you’ll change into a gown and be fitted for IV (intravenous line) for sedation. They’ll also apply monitoring devices to track your vital signs. You’ll lay on your side for the procedure and once the sedation takes effect, you likely won’t remember much else.


your colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist will insert a long, flexible tube (about as thick as your finger), called a colonoscope, into your anus and through the natural cavity of your rectum and colon. You’ll be sedated throughout this process. Patients typically feel little to no pain during the exam.

The colonoscope is fitted with a light, a camera, and other instruments that the healthcare provider will use to examine your colon for:

  • Inflammation (swelling and /or redness)
  • Polyps
  • Other precancerous lesions and potential cancer
  • Other signs of digestive problems

The procedure may also allow your healthcare provider to remove polyps before they become cancerous and take other small samples or biopsies for lab analysis.


your colonoscopy, once you wake up, your healthcare provider will speak to you about the results and give you a written report.

  • The effects of sedations make it unsafe for you to drive or find your way home alone. Before the procedure, make sure to arrange for a friend or family member to help you get home
  • You may feel some bloating from the procedure and pass some gas. These symptoms should subside within a few hours
  • Once you get home:
    • Plan on resting for the remainder of the day
    • Ease back into eating. Start with a small, light meal and work gradually back to your normal diet

Consult your healthcare provider with any questions about the procedure.

Why is Colonoscopy Prep Important?

The cleaner the colon, the clearer the colonoscopy

Before your colonoscopy, you’ll need to take a colonoscopy prep at home starting the day before, or as directed by your healthcare provider.


A colonoscopy prep, like PREPOPIK, is a prescription medication that cleans out your digestive tract. In other words, it causes episodes of diarrhea over several hours so that the colon is empty at the time of your colonoscopy and the healthcare provider can see the lining of the colon clearly.

A successful colonoscopy starts with a proper colonoscopy prep




That’s why it’s so important to follow instructions and do the prep properly. If you arrive for your colonoscopy with a dirty colon, your healthcare provider may have difficulty seeing if there are signs of cancer. Your healthcare provider may not even complete the colonoscopy–potentially leaving you at greater risk for cancer.


So to improve the likelihood of a successful colonoscopy, prep properly. Remember to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions, hydrate before you start your prep, stick to clear liquid diet, and finish your prep completely.

Discussion Guide

Prep for a discussion with your healthcare provider

Congratulations on taking action when it comes to your health. You should always discuss any questions you may have about colonoscopy and colonoscopy prep with your healthcare provider. Download our Discussion Guide for questions to help guide that conversation. In the meantime, below are answers to some common questions that may help clear things up.

Colonoscopy FAQs

Why should I get a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is the gold standard for detection and prevention of CRC, the third leading cause of death from cancer in the US.

A colonoscopy can help your healthcare provider find and remove polyps in the colon before they develop onto cancer. If cancer is already present, finding it early before it causes symptoms or spreads can increase your chances of a full recovery.

Since the mid-1980s, the death rate for CRC has been dropping due in part to increased awareness and screenings, like colonoscopies.

When should I get a colonoscopy?

The American Cancer Society recommends everyone, starting at age 50, get a colonoscopy every 10 years. That’s for people with average risk. Your healthcare provider will determine if you’re at higher risk and need a colonoscopy sooner or more frequently.

Is a colonoscopy painful?

During the procedure, your healthcare team will make you as comfortable as possible. You’ll be fitted with an IV (intravenous line) to give you medication to sedate you. Patients typically feel little to no pain during the exam.

How quickly will the effects of the prep and the colonoscopy wear off?

The effects of the prep may last for a few hours after you finish it. After your procedure, you may feel some bloating and pass some gas. This is due to air being introduced during the procedure to help the colonoscope pass into your colon. These symptoms should subside within a few hours. The effects of sedation may take longer to fully wear off. Don’t plan on driving or operating machinery until after you’ve had a full night’s sleep.


Is PREPOPIK right for me?

It’s important to talk to you healthcare provider about your colonoscopy prep choices and to find out if PREPOPIK is right for you. While you can certainly request PREPOPIK, your healthcare provider will make that decision based on your medical history and what medications you may be taking. Please see Full Prescribing Information for additional information.

How is PREPOPIK different from other colonoscopy preps?

Lowest volume of medicine
PREPOPIK lets you prep with:

  • -10 oz medicine (that’s less than standard can of soda)
  • -64 oz of the approved clear liquids of your choice
Flexible timing
After each 5-oz dose of PREPOPIK, you have the ability to drink the required additional approved clear liquids at your own pace within 5 hours of taking the prep solution, up until 2 hours before your colonoscopy.
Preferred by patients in clinical trials
In clinical trials, patients preferred PREPOPIK vs comparator

Choice of flavors
PREPOPIK has 2 flavors to choose from:
Orange  and Cranberry.

The clinical trials evaluated adults preparing for a colonoscopy with PREPOPIK vs HalfLytely®. The main purpose of the trials was to evaluate how well bowel preparations worked. Secondly people in the trials were also asked to complete questionnaire about orange-flavored PREPOPIK, which include the questions: “Would you ask your doctor for this preparation again if you needed another colonoscopy in the future ” and “How easy or difficult was it to consume  the prescribed bowel preparation?”

Find more about how PREPOPIK is different.

What should my healthcare provider know before I take PREPOPIK?

You should tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking including, but not limited to, prescriptions and non-prescriptions medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements, as well as any ongoing medical conditions including heart, kidney, and nervous system problems or if you are pregnant or nursing. Please see Full Prescribing Information for additional information.

How do I take PREPOPIK?

You can read step-by-step instructions or watch an instructional video here.

How does PREPOPIK work?

Like all colonoscopy preps, PREPOPIK causes diarrhea that, over time, cleans the solid waste from your colon.

Can I eat while prepping with PREPOPIK?

Starting the day before you procedure, you will only be able to consume clear liquids. Be sure to get exact instructions from your healthcare provider about what you can and cannot drink and how often you should drink during the colonoscopy prep.

When should I expect PREPOPIK to start working?

Each patient reacts to  PREPOPIK differently. The effects of PREPOPIK may be felt right away or they may take some time. It is important for you to stay close to a bathroom as soon as you begin taking PREPOPIK.

Are there side effects?

The most common adverse reactions associated with PREPOPIK are headache, nausea, and vomiting. About 3% of patients experience these side effects. Please see Full Prescribing Information for additional information.

Questions to ask your healthcare provider

  • What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?
  • Is it time for me to get a colonoscopy?
  • How do I have to prepare for my colonoscopy?
  • Is PREPOPIK right for me?
  • Can I continue to take my medications during the prep?
  • Who will actually perform the colonoscopy?
  • How far in advance do I need to arrive at the facility?
  • How long will the colonoscopy take?
  • How will I be sedated? What sedative options are available?

Indication and Important Safety Information

PREPOPIK is a prescription medicine used by adults to clean the colon before a colonoscopy. PREPOPIK cleans your colon by causing you to have diarrhea. Cleaning your colon helps your healthcare provider see the inside of your colon more clearly during your colonoscopy.

  • Do not take PREPOPIK if your healthcare provider has told you that you have serious kidney problems, a blockage in your intestine (bowel obstruction), an opening in the wall of your stomach or intestines (bowel perforation), a very dilated intestine (toxic megacolon), problems with the emptying of food and fluid from your stomach (gastric retention), or an allergy to any of the ingredients in PREPOPIK
  • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms of a loss of too much body fluid (dehydration) while taking PREPOPIK: vomiting that prevents you from keeping down the additional prescribed amounts of clear liquids that you must drink after taking PREPOPIK, dizziness, urinating less often than normal, or headache
  • PREPOPIK and other bowel preparations can cause serious side effects, including serious loss of body fluid (dehydration) and changes in blood salts (electrolytes) in your blood. These changes can cause abnormal heartbeats that can cause death, seizures (this can happen even if you have never had a seizure), or kidney problems. Your chance of having fluid loss and changes in blood salts with PREPOPIK is higher if you have heart problems, have kidney problems, or take water pills or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). The most common side effects of PREPOPIK include nausea, headache, and vomiting

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see Full Prescribing Information.

References: 1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2014. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2014. 2. Strul H, Arber M. Fecal occult blood test for colorectal cancer screening. Ann Oncol. 2002;13(1):51-56. 3. Lebwohl B, Kastrinos F, Glick M, et all. The impact of suboptimal bowel preparation on adenoma miss rates and the factors associated with early repeat colonoscopy. Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. 2011;73(6):1207-1214.