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Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(5):957a-958

to the editor: “Doc, the GI ‘prep’ is worse than the procedure.” For 24 years, I'd heard this from patients. Recently, I personally learned that this was true. As a result of the experience, I believe it would be wise for all physicians who recommend gastrointestinal (GI) preps for patients to first endure one themselves.

There are several learning points. First, the taste of the oral solution is not what one would call good. My gut reaction was to chill it, squeeze the juice of a lemon into it and then use a straw to deposit it as far back in my mouth as I could. This helped tremendously.

Closely following this, I encountered another gut reaction: stuff, watery stuff, lots of watery stuff. The volume and frequency of the watery stuff (as inconvenient as it was) was not the problem, however. The problem was the intense burning in the perianal area. After about one half hour of this, I happened to notice our six-month-old child's zinc oxide. Within seconds of applying zinc oxide to the affected area, all pain was gone, and as long as I reapplied it after each gush of liquid, there was no further pain!

I highly recommend that physicians amend their colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy protocols to add ice, lemon juice and a straw to the front end and zinc oxide to the rear end of the GI prep.

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This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, deputy editor.

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