Flexible sigmoidoscopy is the visual examination of the lining of the sigmoid colon and rectum. The results obtained from flexible sigmoidoscopy can be useful in preventing, diagnosing and treating a variety of gastrointestinal diseases.

How do I prepare for flexible sigmoidoscopy?
The sigmoid colon and rectum must be cleansed in order for the exam to be accurate and complete. Your physician will provide you with information about cleansing instructions. Tell him/her if you have any medical or cardiac conditions or allergies to any medications. Certain medications (ie: Coumadin, aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications and vitamin E) can increase the likelihood of bleeding during/after colonoscopy and often need to be discontinued for one week prior to the examination.

What happens during flexible sigmoidoscopy?
While laying on your left side, the flexible endoscope will be inserted into the rectum. This may give you a mild sensation of wanting to move your bowels. As the scope is advanced, it is common to experience slight cramping or gas. If an abnormal growth (polyp) or tissue is detected, it may be removed or biopsied. The examination usually takes 5-15 minutes.

Is it safe?
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a very well tolerated and safe examination. Potential, but uncommon complications include (but are not limited to) bleeding and bowel perforation.

How does sigmoidoscopy differ from colonoscopy?
Simply stated, the goal of the flexible sigmoidoscopy is to examine the rectum and approximately one-third (1/3) of the colon; the goal of colonoscopy is to examine the entire colon.

What can I expect after the examination?
You can expect to feel bloating for several hours after the examination. This often is relieved with the passage of gas. The doctor will discuss the findings with you after your examination. If biopsy or polyp specimens have been sent to the pathologist, please contact the office 10 days after your examination and the doctor will discuss the results with you.

Back to Procedure Instructions