Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

What is flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Sigmoidoscopy is visualization of the sigmoid portion of the colon, which is the lower third of the colon.  A lighted, flexible tube called an endoscopy is inserted via the rectum.  Your physician performs the exam.  Your physician will help you to decide if flexible sigmoidoscopy is right for you.

Why should I have flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Sigmoidoscopy is used to evaluate for problems in the lower portion of the colon.  These problems can include ulcers, polyps, and cancers.  Sigmoidoscopy is also sometimes used to assist in treatment of hemorrhoids.  Other reasons to perform sigmoidoscopy include rectal bleeding, diarrhea, and rectal or anal pain.

Procedure

For the exam to be fully beneficial, it is imperative your colon be clean.  Cleansing preparations may include enemas or oral solutions.  Specific instructions will be issued by our office prior to the exam.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is an outpatient procedure.  You will be asked to lie on your left side for the examination. Your physician will gently place the endoscope into your rectum then guide the endoscope through your lower colon, looking at the colon walls on a video monitor the entire time.  Some patients experience mild cramps due to air being placed into the colon via the endoscope during the exam, but flexible sigmoidoscopy is not generally a painful procedure.  The exam takes between 5-15 minutes and most patients are awake and unsedated for the test.  If you have concerns about pain, discuss these with your physician prior to the beginning of the examination.

Safety and alternatives

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a very safe procedure with a low risk of complications.  Your physician will discuss the possibility of complications with you before the exam is begun.  Other possible means of colon examination include colonoscopy, barium enema and CT scanning.  Again, your physician will help you to decide which test is appropriate for you.

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