New Ways to Make Colonoscopy Prep Easier

It’s just the prep that’s awful!

That’s what many people say about colonoscopy, and it’s a big reason why they avoid screening.

Two studies reported during Digestive Disease Week 2010 looked at ways to make the prep easier for patients.

In one, doctors at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit gave a drug usually prescribed for constipation or a placebo to patients along with a gallon of polyethylene glycol with electrolytes (PEG-EL) and told them to stop drinking the PEG solution when their bowel movements were clear.

A second trial in Europe compared 4 liters of PEG-EL to 2 liters of PEG-EL  with ascorbic acid (MoviPrep®).

Adding lubiprostone

At Henry Ford Hospital, patients preparing for screening colonoscopy were randomized into two groups:  one given a tablet of lubiprostone (Amitiza®) on the two days before their exam and a second group who got a placebo instead.  Both groups were told to drink the PEG-EL solution only until bowel movements were clear.  Normally patients are told to drink an eight ounce glass of liquid every 10 minutes until they finish the entire gallon.

Neither patients or their gastroenterologists knew who got which prep.

The quality of the prep was judged on the amount of stool and liquid left in the colon.

Although patients who took lubiprostone drank less PEG-EL solution, the quality of prep was actually judged to be better overall.

  • The lubiprostone group drank an average of 2.6 liters of solution compared to 3.1 liters for those patients who got a placebo.
  • Overall quality of prep, as measured by the Ottawa scale,was 3.1 for luprostone and 4.0 for placebo.

Chetan Pai, D.O., a Henry Ford Hospital gastroenterologist and lead author of the study said,

Most people say they don’t want to have a colonoscopy because they find the preparation intolerable. If physicians are able to offer a better way to prep, I think this will encourage more people to get the colonoscopies that may save their lives.

His team concluded,

Lubiprostone plus PEG-electrolytes led to improved bowel preparation quality and decreased consumption of PEG-electrolytes compared with PEG-electrolytes alone when used for colonoscopy bowel preparation.

SOURCEPai et al, Digestive Disease Week Abstract #S1052, Lubiprostone Plus Polyethylene Glycol Is Superior to Polyethylene Glycol for Outpatient Colonoscopy Preparation: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.


Doctors in Europe randomly assigned people who were preparing for colonoscopy to either 4 liters of Colopeg® (a PEG-EL solution) or 2 liters of MoviPrep®, a PEG solution with additional ascorbic acid.

  • There was no statistical difference in bowel cleansing between the two preps: 94.1 percent in the MoviPrep group and 90 percent in the Colopeg group had excellent to fair cleansing.
  • But patients preferred the taste of MoviPrep, and scored the entire colonoscopy procedure and MoviPrep itself higher.
  • 80 percent of patients found MoviPrep easy to drink and 85 percent finished it.
  • 87 percent said they would take it again, compared to 51 percent of those who prepped with Colopeg.
  • Adverse events were lower in the MoviPrep group.
  • There were no significant differences in polyp detection or number of colonoscopies that had to be stopped due to poor preparation.

The team led by Thierry Ponchon concluded,

2L MOVIPREP® provided 100% musosal visualisation in 94% of subjects and was at least as good as 4L Colopeg®. High patient acceptability and compliance, together with a good safety profile make the low volume MOVIPREP® solution an ideal preparation in routine practice.

SOURCE: Ponchon et al, Digestive Disease Week 2010 Abstract S1025, Efficacy, Safety and Acceptability of a 2l Polyethylene Glycol With Electrolytes and Ascorbate Components Solution Versus 4l Polyethylene Glycol and Electrolytes Solution for Bowel Cleansing Prior to Colonoscopy.


  1. Kate Murphy says

    GoLytely is polyethylene glycol (PEG) combined with electrolytes. It can come ready mixed or in packets to be mixed with water.

    It is the original 4 liter (about a gallon) colon prep. There are a number of ways that attempts have been made to make it more tolerable.

    NuLytely reduced some of the sodium to make it taste less salty and added flavor pouches. MoviPrep, discussed above, added ascorbic acid to reduce the volume necessary to 2 liters and also improved taste.

    Some doctors suggest combining MiraLax powder with Gatorade.

    Because PEG works by pulling lots of fluid into the bowel, electrolytes in the body can quickly get out-of-balance. That can make people feel dizzy or weak and can be harmful to the heart and kidneys.

    Adding back electrolytes puts thing back in balance.

    There are a number of choices now of ways to combine PEGS and electrolytes with the goals of cleaning the colon thoroughly, keeping electrolytes in balance, and making the experience tolerable for patients.

  2. Roman Stadtler says

    I’ve alway had great luck with Go-lytly, the prep I usually use. I drink it all down, a glass every 15 mins or so, until it’s gone (1 gall), and I have no problems. It tastes all right (there’s flavor packets, but once I forgot, and it was fine), I evacuate a bunch, and go to bed. No sweats, no shakes, no big deal really. I don’t remember what’s in Go-Lytly, but maybe ask your docs about it.

  3. Jennifer Gowan says

    As I have had 5 colonoscopies all under the age of 33, I have experienced them all…trust me = (

    The last one I did was the BEST ONE YET and I didn’t feel sick off of it, nor was there any bas taste that made me want to throw up. It was the Miralax/Gatorade prep… basically are taking in one night a 14 days Miralax perep which is sold at any local drug store (cvs, walgreens, etc). I took a one day Miralx prep before just to “test it out”. I mixed it in gatorade (any fklavor) and OMGosh……No tatse other than the drink I usexd to mix it in. I will always request this one from now on.


  4. Anne Faulkner says

    MOVIPREP was the WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE!!!!!!! I has an adverse reaction (I guess) I literally froze and was shivering so violently I could not stay put on the toilet. My temperature dropped, my hands and feet were so cold you would think I was frostbitten. Why is this prep necessary??? I really didn’t mind the “old” Fleet’s Phospho-Soda – it worked GREAT for me, no side effects and really did the job clearing things out. I am required to have colonoscopy’s every two years, but I am seriously considering risking my health – I NEVER want to go through that again!!!

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