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Bowel Preparation - Before laparoscopic surgery

What is bowel preparation?

Bowel preparation is a liquid oral solution, used to cleanse the bowel for many procedures including x-rays, ultrasounds of the bowel and colonoscopies. Bowel preparation is also used prior to laparoscopic surgery. In this setting, bowel preparation is used to help soften the bowel. The bowel is less likely to become distended or become obstructed during your surgery which in turn lowers the risk of complications. Bowel preparation is particularly useful for patients where bowel endometriosis may be suspected.

When to take

The bowel preparation needs to be taken the day prior to your laparoscopic surgery. It is best that you either take the whole day off or leave work early as you will need to start the preparation at 3pm. Once you start taking the preparation, you will need to be close to the toilet and remain close to a toilet through the evening.


  • You do not need a prescription for this laxative and is widely available at pharmacies.
  • You do not need a prescription for this but a pharmacist will need to provide it to you over the counter.
  • FLEET PHOSPHO-SODA 45ml is an oral liquid laxative.
  • Costs approximately $6-8, at most pharmacies.

Day before surgery:

3 pm – Drink the whole bottle of laxative 45ml, you can mix this in a glass of water if that helps with the taste.

Some patients often need to use the toilet all afternoon and evening. Be mindful that your body needs to expel this product before sleep - so don’t leave it too late in the day to commence the preparation.

Drink plenty of water after taking the Fleet preparation – at least 2 litres of water up until midnight the night before surgery. This will help move the preparation through your bowel and remove any remaining products from your bowel.

Recommended consumption of food:

You can have a normal breakfast and lunch the day of taking the bowel preparation. Then;

Dinner: try and have a light dinner the day you have the bowel preparation. You can have a soup (vegetable, pumpkin, miso etc) salad, porridge, sandwiches with white bread as this will be absorbed quicker than wholegrain/rye. No heavy meals e.g. pasta, legumes - In other words, a low residual diet.

Morning surgery: Fast from midnight if surgery starts in the morning (8 -11am)

Afternoon surgery: If surgery is in the afternoon, you can eat a light breakfast I.e. Toast and fruit with tea or coffee. Then fasting from 6.30/7am no water or food!

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