Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure which enables the direct visualization of the lining of the rectum and a portion of the colon (large intestine). A thin flexible tube is inserted into the anus and slowly advanced to the lower part of the colon.
In general, preparation consists of one or two fleet enemas prior to the procedure. In some circumstances you may be advised to forego any special preparation.
Most medications can be continued as usual. Inform us about medications that you’re taking – particularly aspirin products or anticoagulants (blood thinners) — as well as any allergies you have to medications.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is usually well-tolerated. You will lie on your left side during the examination and will have the option to be awake or sedated. You might experience a feeling of pressure, bloating or cramping during the procedure but these are temporary symptoms which will typically resolve within minutes.
If there is an abnormal area in the colon, a biopsy may be taken for further analysis. If a polyp is found, a biopsy is usually taken. A colonoscopy (a complete examination of the colon) is usually then recommended to remove the polyp and to search for additional polyps that may be present in areas of the colon that were not visualized by the sigmoidoscopy.
The results will be discussed with you when the procedure is completed. 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 our office, assuming you did not receive any sedative medication.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy and biopsy are considered very safe. Complications are rare, but it’s important for you to recognize early signs of possible complications. Contact us if you notice severe abdominal pain, fever and chills, or rectal bleeding of more than one-half cup. Note that rectal bleeding can occur several days after a biopsy.