Bowel Preparation – Information for Patients and Families

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-1412-2023
  • Departments: Paediatrics
  • Last Updated: 1 September 2023


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information. Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team, but may act as a starting point for discussion. If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

What is Bowel Preparation?

Bowel preparation solutions (also known as laxatives) are used to clear the bowel before a procedure.  This allows the doctor to see the bowel wall during ileocolonoscopy and similar procedures.  The solutions used are Senna and Picolax®.

What will happen on the day before the procedure?

If your child is unwell or has been unwell recently, please contact us before giving the bowel preparation medicine.

  • You child should have breakfast as normal.
  • Then, start the liquid diet. Do not eat any solid food.
  • Please encourage your child to drink plenty of clear fluids.

If you child is on the morning list:

  • At 2pm – Mix each sachet of Picolax® with half a glass (125ml) of cold water. Drink a dose of Senna and take the dose of Picolax® as prescribed.
  • At 10pm – Make up a fresh solution of Picolax®. Drink the second doses of Senna and Picolax® as prescribed.

If your child is on the afternoon list:

  • At 6pm – Mix each sachet of Picolax® with half a glass (125ml) of cold water. Drink the first dose of Senna and Picolax® as prescribed.

What will happen on the day of the procedure?

If your child is on the morning list:

  • Stop the liquid diet at 2.30am
  • Do not drink any water or fluid from 6.30am

If you child is on the afternoon list:

  • At 7am – Make up a fresh solution of Picolax®. Drink the second doses of Senna and Picolax® as prescribed.
  • Stop the liquid diet at 7.30am
  • Do not drink any water or fluid from 11.30am
  • Stools should be entirely watery with no solid pieces (‘Grade 7’ on the Bristol Stool chart).

Side effects of bowel cleansing medicine

Your child may need the toilet urgently so it is advisable not to go too far from home after taking the bowel cleansing medicine.

In addition, your child may have:

  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Headache
  • Vomiting

Please take your child to your nearest Accident and Emergency (A&E) department if they are:

  • Dehydrated from severe diarrhoea
  • Lethargic and listless
  • Rash, itchiness, redness and swelling – this may be an allergic reaction to the medicine.

Interactions with other medications

  • Anti-clotting medicine such as aspirin or warfarin – these may need to be stopped before the procedure.
  • Medicines by mouth – do not give these within an hour of giving bowel cleansing medicine.
  • Any regular medicines – check with your doctor or pharmacist whether to continue to give these.
  • Medicines on prescription, medicines bought from a pharmacy or any herbal or complementary medicine – check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving to your child.

Any questions:

  • About the booking, please call 01482382639.
  • About the test, please contact the Pre-admission Nurse on 01482602679.
  • About the admission to Acorn Ward, call 01482602679.
  • Any medical problems related to the procedure, discuss with the consultant.
  • The clinic appointment after the test, please call your consultant’s secretary.

Please read the information leaflet.  Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support.  There may be information they need to know, especially if they are helping take care of your child following this examination.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats your child, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to your child. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your child’s condition, the alternatives available for your child, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about your child

We collect and use your child’s information to provide your child with care and treatment. As part of your child’s care, information about your child will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your child’s information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide your child with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your child’s doctor, or the person caring for your child.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about your child. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you need information about your child’s (or a child you care for) health and wellbeing and their care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.