For those who dread the famously gross liquid concoction required before a colonoscopy, there is a new option – pills. Lots of them.
Twenty-four to be exact, to be taken the night before and the day of a colonoscopy, which is recommended for everyone over the age of 45.
Sutab™, approved by the FDA in 2020 and available through Hartford HealthCare Digestive Health Center providers, works the same way as liquid prep, serving as a laxative to clear the bowels for the test.
Patients take a total of 24 tablets—12 the night before and 12 the day of the screening. Pill prep is not recommended for people who have a history of heart disease or kidney disease or for people who have difficulty swallowing.
“It’s really based on patient preference,” said Joseph Ianello, MD, a gastroenterologist with Connecticut GI and the Hartford HealthCare Digestive Health Center.
Patients who opt for the pills still need to follow the same preparation requirements for their colonoscopy starting the day before, including not eating solid food, consuming only clear liquids and not eating or drinking anything two hours before the procedure.
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Dr. Ianello recommends patients take three or four pills every 15 minutes the night before and the morning of the procedure. He says while patients still need to hydrate while taking the pills – which are about the size of a large vitamin pill – it’s a better option for those who don’t want to drink that lukewarm, salty prep.
“Some people equate the taste of liquid prep to seawater. [Pharmaceutical companies] have tried to flavor them to make them a little more tolerable,” Ianello said. “We’ve tried different strategies like having patients chill the liquid or drink it with a straw to make it more palatable. But some people would prefer not to consume that much liquid.”
Sutab and other pill prep regimens are covered by most insurance plans.