Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

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What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

FlexSigmoidoscopy.jpgFlexible sigmoidoscopy is an outpatient procedure used to examine the lining of the colon. This exam can help your doctor identify causes of abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, persistent diarrhea or other intestinal problems. The exam may also be performed to screen for polyps, which can lead to colon cancer.

How do I prepare for a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Your colon must be completely empty to ensure an accurate view of your colon and rectum. Your doctor may instruct you to take a laxative the night before the exam or an enema a few hours before the test or the night before. Typically, you will have to follow a special diet consisting of clear liquids the day before the exam. Furthermore, you may not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight. Please inform your doctor of any major illnesses or allergies you have, and any medications you are taking.

What happens during a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

You’ll begin the exam lying on your side; typically with your knees drawn toward your chest. Your doctor will carefully insert a thin, flexible tube, known as a sigmoidoscope, into your rectum. The sigmoidoscope features a fiber-optic light and a channel through which your doctor can pump air into the colon, which will provide a better view of the lining. There is a tiny video camera on the tip of the sigmoidoscope, which enables your doctor to view the inside of the rectum and most of the sigmoid colon; the portion of the large intestine that is closest to the rectum. If necessary your doctor can obtain a biopsy of abnormal tissue.

What happens after a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Your doctor will provide the results of the exam and instructions in writing. You may experience a bloating sensation and mild cramping, which should subside within a few hours.

Are there any possible complications?

When performed by one of our board certified gastroenterologists, a flexible sigmoidoscopy is generally safe. Complications, which are rare, include bleeding or perforation of the bowel. If you notice any problems, please contact our office.