Flexible sigmoidoscopy lets your gastroenterologist examine the lining of the rectum and a portion of the colon (large intestine) by inserting a flexible tube about the thickness of your finger into the anus and slowly advancing it into the rectum and lower part of the colon.
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Preparation
Your gastroenterologist will tell you what cleansing routine to use. In general, preparation consists of one or two enemas prior to the procedure but could include laxatives or dietary modifications as well.
Most medications can be continued as usual. Inform your gastroenterologist about medications that you’re taking – particularly aspirin products or anticoagulants (blood thinners) — as well as any allergies you have to medications.
What can I expect during flexible sigmoidoscopy?
You and your gastroenterologist will discuss if you will need sedation. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is usually well tolerated even if not sedated. You might experience a feeling of pressure, bloating or cramping during the procedure if you have not been sedated. You will lie on your side while your gastroenterologist advances the sigmoidoscope through the rectum and colon. As your gastroenterologist withdraws the instrument, your gastroenterologist will carefully examine the lining of the intestine.
If your gastroenterologist sees an area that needs further evaluation, they might take a biopsy (sample of the colon lining) to be analyzed. He may also choose to remove a polyp(s) if present. Biopsies are used to identify many conditions, and your gastroenterologist might order one even if he or she doesn’t suspect cancer.
After the Procedure
You might feel bloating or some mild cramping because of the air that was passed into the colon during the examination. This will disappear quickly when you pass gas. You should be able to eat and resume your normal activities after leaving your gastroenterologist’s office or the hospital, assuming you did not receive any sedative medication.