A sigmoidoscopy is ordered for several reasons. It most frequently used as a screening tool for colon cancer. It is also helpful for determining the cause of bleeding, pain, bowel obstruction, or changes in bowel habits. Additionally, a sigmoidscope can be used for taking photographs and/or obtaining tissue samples for examination.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is an outpatient procedure performed at a doctor’s office or in a hospital. It does not require sedation or anesthesia. Preparation instructions for a sigmoidoscopy generally consist of methods to empty or clean your bowel prior to the test including the use of laxatives, enemas, or a liquid diet. Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions.
You will wear an examination gown for your flexible sigmoidoscopy. You will lie on your left side with your knees bent for the procedure, also known as the fetal position. A digital rectal examination may be performed before the test. To do so, your doctor will briefly insert a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to check for abnormalities such as obstructions.
Your doctor will carefully insert the sigmoidscope through your anus into your rectum and the lower section of your colon. Air and water may be inserted with the scope to open the folds of the colon to provide a better view. Your doctor will carefully and slowly advance the sigmoidscope into your colon. You may need to change positions during the procedure to allow your doctor to best place the sigmoidscope.
The procedure may cause temporary discomfort. It is common to pass gas during and after a flexible sigmoidoscopy. You may experience mild cramping and bleeding after your flexible sigmoidoscopy. Your doctor will instruct you on how to increase your food and liquid intake. Your doctor will also discuss unexpected symptoms related to the test that may occur and a plan to address them.
Your doctor will review the results of your flexible sigmoidoscopy with you after your procedure or during a follow-up appointment. It may take time to receive biopsy results. If any abnormal results were found by your test, your doctor will discuss treatment plan options with you.