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Before your bowel surgery we need your bowel to be as empty as possible. This gives the surgeons doing your operation a clear view of the large bowel (colon).

We will give you a box of Moviprep® bowel preparation to clean out your bowel. This contains four sachets of Moviprep® (two labelled A and two labelled B). Moviprep® works by emptying the contents of your bowel so you should expect to have watery bowel movements.

It is essential that you read and follow the instructions in this leaflet before your surgery. Please contact us as soon as possible if you have any concerns or questions about how to take the Moviprep®.

You can eat and drink normally up until the day before your surgery.

The morning of the day before your surgery

Please have a light breakfast (such as a bowl of Rice Krispies® or cornflakes or piece of toast). You can also have a light lunch which you should finish before 12:00 midday.

From 12:00 midday on the day before your surgery you should not eat any food until after your operation.

Do not eat any high fibre foods such as wholemeal bread, cereals, fruit and fruit juice, vegetables, nuts, seeds, salad and muesli. Do not eat red meat. Foods which you can eat include:

  • Cereals: only Rice Krispies® or cornflakes 
  • Carbohydrates: only white bread or toast / rice / white pasta / potatoes – boiled, mashed, fried or baked, do not eat the skin
  • Eggs: scrambled, fried, poached or boiled Meat: fish or chicken
  • Dairy: butter, cheese, margarine, milk and yogurt (plain) Vegetarian: you may eat tofu or soya products

You may drink plenty of clear fluids (water, black tea or coffee, fruit squash, Oxo®, Bovril®, sports energy drinks such as Lucozade® and clear strained soup) but do not drink fruit juice and do not put any milk in your tea or coffee.

At 14:00 on the day before your surgery open two Moviprep® sachets (one sachet A and one sachet B) and pour them into a large jug. Add one litre of lukewarm water (not chilled) to the jug and stir until all the powder is dissolved. The water should look clear or slightly hazy.

Drink one glassful (about 250ml) every 30 minutes or so until you have drunk the whole litre. You should aim to finish by 16:00. You could put it in the fridge to chill it, which will make it easier to take, or you could try sipping it through a straw if you do not like the taste. You must also drink at least one extra half litre (500ml) of clear fluids in addition to the Moviprep®. This is to ensure you do not become dehydrated and to ensure all the waste gets flushed out of your bowel.

At 18:00 on the day before your surgery open the remaining two Moviprep® sachets (one sachet A and one sachet B) and repeat the process again. You should aim to finish the whole litre of Moviprep® by 20:00. You should again drink at least a further half litre (500ml) of clear fluids.
You may continue to drink clear fluids up until 06:00 on the day of your operation. You must not drink anything after 06:00 on the day of your operation.

You should expect diarrhoea to start a few hours after the first dose of Moviprep®. You should also expect some crampy tummy pain. Moviprep® is designed to clean the bowel out so it is sensible to stay near a toilet.

You may find your bottom gets sore from going to the toilet so often. To prevent soreness, you may apply petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline®) or a barrier cream (such as Sudocrem® or Drapolene®) to your bottom after you got to the toilet.

Note: If you develop vomiting, severe diarrhoea with dizziness, headache or confusion, contact the Enhanced Recovery Nurse on 07852 905980 during working hours (Tuesday to Friday 08:00-17:00). At other times please contact the switchboard on 020 3456 7890 and ask for the on-call surgery doctor on bleep 6614.

It is unusual for Moviprep® bowel preparation to be harmful but there is a risk of developing dehydration, low blood pressure or kidney problems with this medication.

People who are particularly at risk of dehydration and loss of salts include: frail elderly people, children, and people with renal impairment, congestive cardiac (heart) failure, liver cirrhosis, or those taking diuretics (water tablets). Moviprep® is especially designed to be safe in these situations so the risk is very low.

If you are pregnant or think you might be do not take the Moviprep® as it could be very dangerous. Please contact us before taking Moviprep® if you think you might be pregnant.

The type and seriousness of side effects differ from person to person. Possible ones are nausea or vomiting, bloating, stomach pain, soreness around the bottom and dehydration (please remember to drink plenty of fluids).

If you have any allergic reactions including a rash, an itch, redness or swelling please contact us, your GP or visit your local Emergency Department if the problem is urgent.

You should not take tablets and other oral medication within one hour of Moviprep® as they may be flushed through too quickly and not absorbed so they will not work properly.

You should follow any specific advice you have been given with regard to your regular medications. You will have a pre- admission appointment before your surgery, and we will give you advice about taking your usual medications and which ones may need to be stopped.

Note: Patients taking immunosuppressant medication for transplanted organs should seek the advice of their transplant doctor before taking Moviprep®, as it might mean the anti-rejection drugs work less well.

Women taking the oral contraceptive pill should take alternative precautions during the seven days following taking Moviprep®, as the pill may not work.

Enhanced Recovery Nurse (Tuesday to Friday 08:00-17:30)
Mobile: 07852 905980
Switchboard: 08451 555 000 / 020 3456 7890

T7 North ward (Nurse Co-ordinator)
Mobile: 07929 792696 /  07977 098159  

On-call surgery doctor
Switchboard: 08451 555 000 / 020 3456 7890 and then ask for bleep 6614 (urgent queries which cannot wait until the next day)

Enhanced Recovery Programme
University College Hospital
235 Euston Road


Page last updated: 24 April 2024

Review due: 01 April 2026