Bowel Preparation for Orthopedic Surgery

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

Follow the instructions below to be sure your bowel is clean and empty before your surgery.  

Purchase Supplies

Purchase the following supplies from any pharmacy. You do not need a prescription.
  • 2 (10 ounce) bottles of magnesium citrate
  • 2 saline enemas, such as Fleet®
  • Clear liquids from the table below
Back to top

2 Days Before Your Surgery

  • Eat and drink only clear liquids. Examples of clear liquids are provided in the table below.
  • At 3:00 pm, drink 1 full bottle of magnesium citrate.


Food/Beverage Eat/Drink Do Not Eat/Drink
  • Clear broth or bouillon
  • Clear consommé
  • Packaged vegetable, chicken, or beef broth
Any products with any particles of dried food or seasoning
  • Gelatin, such as Jell-O®
  • Flavored ices
  • Hard candies, such as Lifesavers®
All others
  • Clear fruit juices, such as white cranberry, white grape, apple
  • Soda, such as 7-Up®, Sprite®, ginger ale, seltzer, Gatorade®
  • Black coffee
  • Tea
  • Juices with pulp
  • Nectars
  • Milk or cream
  • Alcoholic beverages
Back to top

The Day Before Your Surgery

  • Continue to eat and drink only clear liquids.
  • In the morning, give yourself 1 saline enema.
  • At 6:00 pm, drink 1 full bottle of magnesium citrate.
  • 1 hour before bedtime, give yourself another saline enema.

Back to top

The Day of Your Surgery

Between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, you may drink a total of 12 ounces of clear liquids (see Figure 1). 

Examples of clear liquids can be found in the “2 Days Before Your Surgery” section of this resource.

Figure 1. 12 ounces of clear liquid
Back to top