Colorectal surgery can be necessary for treating conditions of the anus and colon. These include both malignant and pre-malignant conditions, such as polyps, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and cancer.

In order to prepare the bowel to undergo colorectal surgery, a few precautions should be taken by patients. These will vary slightly depending on the exact procedure. The following recommendations come from health care professionals at Stanford University. For exams under anesthesia, anal fistulas, and those involving a seton placement, patients do not need to follow any special dietary restrictions the day before going into surgery. However, no food or liquids should be consumed after midnight the night before going into the procedure. This should also be followed on the day of the surgery, refraining from consumption until post-op. Necessary medications can be taken with small amounts of water.

Colorectal patients will be required to administer a fleet enema before heading into their procedure, as well. For patients heading in for a morning operation, one enema should be utilized two hours after dinner the night before with another the morning of the procedure. Afternoon and night patients will need to undergo two enemas, administered an hour apart on the morning of the procedure.

Bowel cases, sphincter repairs, transanal tumor excisions, rectocele repairs, and perineal rectosigmoidectomy patients may have a small, light breakfast the day before the procedure but should stick to a clear liquid diet of beverages and broths for the remainder of the day. The recommendations change slightly depending on age, as well. Those under age 65 should drink 1.5 ounces of phospho-soda laxative at 2:00 in the afternoon and 6:00 in the evening, while those older than 65 should consume Golytely laxative solution, following instructions on the bottle.

Be sure to purchase the appropriate laxative two days before the procedure. Both enemas are available over-the-counter at any pharmacy. but the Golytely laxative will require a prescription from the patient’s doctor. Responses to the laxative will vary from body to body, so remain in close proximity to a restroom for the duration. No food or other beverages should be consumed on the night before or the day of the procedure. Talk to a doctor and/or pharmacist for any other questions or clarification.