Bowel Preparation for Orthopaedic Surgery

This information explains how to do a bowel preparation for your orthopaedic surgery.

It’s important that your bowel is clean and empty before your orthopaedic surgery. Follow the instructions below to do your bowel preparation.

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Purchase Supplies

Purchase the following supplies from any pharmacy. You don’t need a prescription.

  • 1 (10-ounce) bottle of liquid magnesium citrate
  • 2 Bisacodyl enemas, such as Fleet®
  • Clear liquids from the table below
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2 Days Before Your Surgery

At 9:00 pm, 2 days before your surgery, drink 1 full bottle of magnesium citrate.

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The Day Before Your Surgery

  • Follow the clear liquid diet explained below.
  • In the morning, give yourself 1 Bisacodyl enema. Follow the instructions on the package.
  • 1 hour before you go to bed, give yourself another Bisacodyl enema.

While on the clear liquid diet:

  • Don’t eat any solid foods.
  • Try to drink at least 1 (8-ounce) glass every hour while you’re awake.
  • Drink different types of liquids. Don’t just drink water, black coffee, and tea. Don’t drink sugar-free liquids unless you have diabetes.

For People With Diabetes

If you have diabetes, ask the healthcare provider who manages your diabetes what you should do while you’re following a clear liquid diet.

If you take insulin or another medication for diabetes, ask if you need to change the dose.

Ask if you should drink sugar-free clear liquids.

While you’re following a clear liquid diet, make sure to check your blood sugar level often. If you have any questions, talk with your healthcare provider.

Clear Liquid Diet

Clear Liquid Diet
  Drink Do Not Drink
  • Clear broth, bouillon, or consommé
  • Any products with pieces of dried food or seasoning
  • Gelatin (such as Jell-O®)
  • Flavored ices
  • Hard candies (such as Life Savers®)
  • All others
  • Clear fruit juices (such as lemonade, apple, cranberry, and grape juices)
  • Soda (such as ginger ale, 7-Up®, Sprite®, and seltzer)
  • Sports drinks (such as Gatorade®)
  • Black coffee
  • Tea
  • Water
  • Juices with pulp
  • Nectars
  • Milk or cream
  • Alcoholic drinks
Instructions for eating and drinking before your surgery

12 ounces of water

  • Do not eat anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes hard candy and gum.
  • Between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, you may drink a total of 12 ounces of water (see figure).
  • Starting 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, do not eat or drink anything. This includes water.
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