A flexible sigmoidoscopy is an outpatient procedure that allows your doctor to examine the lower part of the large intestine for abnormalities. A flexible sigmoidoscopy is used to evaluate gastrointestinal symptoms, like rectal and intestinal bleeding, abdominal pain, or changes in bowel habits.
For the test to be effective, the lower part of the colon must be empty and clean. Your doctor will ask you to take enemas to clean out the lower part of the colon. Make sure to follow the instructions provided by the doctor’s office.
In most instances a flexible sigmoidoscopy will include:
A flexible sigmoidoscopy lets your doctor examine the inside of your lower digestive tract. Your doctor will use a flexible sigmoidoscope (instrument with a camera and light on its end) to look for abnormalities that may be present. The scope is inserted into the rectum and advanced through the lower part of the large intestine while the patient is under sedation.
During the procedure, the doctor might take a biopsy or remove polyps. Polyps are growths of tissue that are typically benign. Some polyps can become cancerous if not removed. Having polyp removed does not cause any pain. A flexible sigmoidoscopy allows accurate diagnosis and treatment of colorectal problems in a minimally invasive fashion.
You will be monitored until most of the effects of the sedatives have worn off. Your doctor will explain the results of the examination to you. If biopsies were performed you will have to wait a few days for those results to become available. You must have a driver take you home.
No, flexible sigmoidoscopy is usually not painful. Almost all flexible sigmoidoscopies can be performed using “intravenous sedation” or “twilight sedation” in which you are very drowsy, but comfortable and still breathing on your own. The most common type of sedation also has a mild amnesiac effect, so most patients do not even remember the procedure. Your doctor can discuss with you the best form of sedation to suit your needs.
When your procedure is scheduled you will receive detailed instructions regarding what you need to do to prepare for the procedure. Please make sure you read them carefully and follow as instructed.
Make sure you arrive to the procedure site at the time specified by your doctor.
Any procedure carries a small amount of risk and potential complications. These risks will be discussed with you in detail prior to the procedure and before the patient provides consent. Some of the risks with a flexible sigmoidoscopy include:
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