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Procedure Preparation

If you’re preparing for a colonoscopy or endoscopy procedure and have questions about the prep, you’re not alone!

Although we do our best to explain procedures and prep instructions ahead of time, it’s not uncommon for patients to forget things or think of new questions during the prep process. You’ll find many answers below to the most frequently asked questions for that procedure. If you have a question, please check here first to see if the answer is listed. This may save you a call to the office.

If you don’t find your answer or have an issue that does require a call, your doctor’s nurse will be able to help you during office hours (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). After hours, call our main number (703-698-8960) and the answering service will contact the physician on call to help you.

Preparing for a Colonoscopy

When preparing for your colonoscopy procedure, you must follow the instructions you have been given. The cleaner your intestinal tract, the easier it is to provide a more thorough examination. If you misplace your instructions or have questions about any of the preps, click on the following for a downloadable document.

Preparing for an Endoscopy

  • The fasting time is the same for all procedures - 8 hours prior. If your endoscopy is scheduled in the afternoon, you may have a light breakfast such as clear tea, black coffee or plain toast, as long as you are done 8 hours prior to your procedure.

  • NO! You cannot eat anything 8 hours before your procedure. If you do, we will have to reschedule your procedure.

  • NO! You cannot drink anything within 4 hours of your procedure. If you do, we will have to reschedule your procedure.

  • You will be sedated during your procedure and it is critical to have an empty stomach when having IV sedation to prevent aspiration (accidental inhalation of stomach contents).

  • NO! NOTHING at all by mouth for 4 hours prior to your procedure. Gum, mints, and candy stimulate gastric juices in the stomach. It’s important to decrease this production to reduce the chances of aspiration during your procedure.

  • Yes, in fact it’s preferable. Try not to swallow any water.

  • If your procedure is at our Fairfax or Chantilly Endoscopy Center, take your normal medications with small sips of water. If your procedure is at an Inova facility/hospital, follow the instructions provided by their nurse when she calls.

  • Each facility has its own procedure and medication policies. You should follow the instructions from the facility where you are having your procedure. If at a Gastro Health facility, follow our instructions. If at an Inova facility, follow their nurses’ instructions.

  • NO! The blood pressure medication instructions are only for those patients already taking this medication.

  • No, this is not necessary for routine endoscopy procedures as they are not considered surgery. If you are scheduled for an advanced therapeutic procedure at the hospital, you may be given antibiotics beforehand, but your doctor will discuss this with you.

  • This will depend on the type of infection. Let your doctor’s nurse know at least one week prior to your procedure date so she can reschedule you if necessary.

  • If you have any of these issues within two (2) days of your procedure, please call the office to let us know. We may need to reschedule your procedure.

  • Because these procedures do not take long, a short acting IV sedation is used. This makes you sleep during the procedure so you do not feel or remember any of it. You should awaken feeling relaxed and comfortable. Many people say, "best nap ever!"

  • Your scheduler will tell you what time you need to be there. This varies by facility.

  • An upper endoscopy takes about 10 minutes, not including pre-op prep and recovery time.

  • It is the policy at Gastro Health Virginia facilities and most Inova facilities that your driver remain on the premises during your procedure. You may take a taxi, Uber or Lyft but you must have a responsible adult accompany you during your visit and on your return trip home. GI procedures normally do not take a long time, and today’s fast-acting sedation options have also greatly reduced recovery times. Gastro Health offers free Wi-Fi in our reception areas to help pass the time.

  • No, your driver can be a friend or neighbor. However, it is best to have a family member so they can listen when your doctor explains the initial results of your procedure and goes over post-op instructions. For some patients, lingering sedation effects can cause temporary recollection difficulties, so you may not remember everything your doctor tells you.

  • No. Every person recovers differently from sedation. We want you to leave with someone who can ensure you return home safely and comfortably, and that you’re not having any post-op complications.

  • Our anesthesiology providers are not part of the Gastro Health practice. They may not participate with all insurances and may be out of network for your insurance. However, we have negotiated with them for reduced rates for out-of-network service, which commonly keeps out-of-pocket expenses comparable to in-plan costs.

  • The pathologists we use may be out of network for your insurance. However, we have negotiated with them for reduced rates for out-of-network service, which commonly keeps out-of-pocket expenses comparable to in-plan costs.