A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a common procedure to examine the inner lining of the lower portion of the colon (sigmoid) and rectum. Your doctor may recommend this procedure if you have gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or changes in bowel habits.
This test may also be used to screen for colon and rectal cancer.
Your bowel must be completely empty in order for your doctor to clearly view the lining of your colon. Typically, patients are given two enemas to empty their sigmoid colon two hours before the test. Your doctor will advise the best method for you. Inform your doctor of all medications you are taking, as well as any allergies to medications.
During the procedure, you will lie on your left side with your knees drawn inward. A flexible tube called a sigmoidoscope will be inserted into the rectum and slowly passed into the sigmoid colon. A small amount of air is used to expand the colon walls in order for your doctor to see the lining. If growths or polyps are found during the test, a biopsy may be taken and sent to the lab for further testing.
While it might be uncomfortable, this procedure isn’t painful. A sigmoidoscopy usually takes about 20 minutes. You may resume all normal activities after the test.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is considered a safe and effective procedure. It is normal to experience mild cramping and bloating after the procedure.
While very rare, there is a risk of perforation (a hole in the colon wall) from the tube. When you partner with Providence for your exam, you can rest easy knowing your medical team has the skill and experience necessary to reduce the risk of complication.