Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is a visual exam of the rectum and lower part of the colon. During this visual exam, our talented physicians are able to see the lower intestinal tract using a lighted, flexible endoscope.

What is an Endoscope?

An endoscope is a flexible tube with a tiny, computer chip at the end. As the physician moves it through the upper gastrointestinal tract, electronic signals are transmitted from the scope to a computer that displays the images on a video screen. An endoscope has an open channel that allows other instruments to be passed through it to take tissue samples, remove polyps and perform other exams.

What can a sigmoidoscopy diagnose?

  • Bleeding: Rectal bleeding is very common and is often caused by a small tear in the anus (called a fissure) or by hemorrhoids. However, more serious problems can cause bleeding. It is important that we identify and remove any polyps at an early stage before they become cancerous.
  • Diarrhea: Persistent diarrhea should always be evaluated. There are many causes of diarrhea and a sigmoidoscopy is an effective way to investigate this problem.
  • Pain: Hemorrhoids and fissures often cause pain around the anus or in the rectum. Discomfort in the lower abdomen can be caused by tumors or diverticulosis. Sigmoidoscopy is an effective way to diagnose these problems.

How to Prepare:

It is essential to have a clean colon and rectum prior to the procedure. Preparation usually involves drinking clear liquids the day prior along with taking enemas and/or laxatives. Our office will give you specific instructions prior to your procedure.

What to Expect During the Procedure:

This exam typically takes 5 to 15 minutes and sedation is not typically required. Your physician will ask you to lie on your left side with your legs drawn up to your chest. They will begin by performing a digital exam followed by gently inserting the endoscope into the rectum. The bowel is then inflated with air to expand it and allow for clear and careful examination. You may feel some discomfort similar to strong gas cramps/pain.

What to Expect After the Procedure:

Bloating or gas is common following this procedure but usually only lasts 30 minutes to 1 hour. If a biopsy is performed or a polyp is removed, you may have some spotting of blood. This is rarely serious.