Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that enables your physician to examine the lining of the rectum and a portion of the colon (large bowel) by inserting a flexible tube that is about the thickness of your finger into the anus and advancing it slowly into the rectum and lower part of the colon.

Pre-Op Prep Instructions

Two disposable enemas are required for cleansing the lower bowel. They can be purchased at the local drug store. No prescription is required.

On the morning of your test, do not eat or drink anything. Use one more disposable enema per rectum three hours before the test and a second enema one hour before the test.

What Occurs During the Exam?

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is usually well tolerated and rarely causes much pain. There is often a feeling of pressure, bloating, or cramping at various times during the procedure. You will be lying on your side while the sigmoidoscope is advanced through the rectum and colon. As the instrument is withdrawn, the lining of the intestine is carefully examined.

The procedure usually takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.

Possible Complications

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy and biopsy are generally safe when performed by physicians who have been specially trained and are experienced in these endoscopic procedures. Possible complications include a perforation (tear through the bowel wall) and bleeding from the site of the biopsy.

Although the complications after flexible sigmoidoscopy are rare, it is important for you to recognize early signs of any possible complication. Contact your physician if you notice any of the following symptoms: severe abdominal pain, fevers and chills, or rectal bleeding of more than one-half cup. It is important to note that rectal bleeding can occur even several days after a biopsy.

After the Procedure

After sigmoidoscopy, the physician will explain the results to you. You may have some mild cramping or bloating sensation because of the air that has been passed into the colon during the examination. This will disappear quickly with the passage of gas.

You should be able to eat and resume your normal activities after leaving the hospital.