What Is a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure used to closely examine the last third of your descending colon. Such a procedure is typically done if an entire colonoscopy is unnecessary and your gastroenterologist only wants to inspect the last part of your colon.
Associated Symptoms & GI Conditions
Signs and symptoms that may warrant a sigmoidoscopy include:
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Changes in normal bowel habits
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
A family history of colorectal cancer is another common reason for many routine flexible sigmoidoscopy procedures. Typically, patients with a family history of colorectal cancer will require a sigmoidoscopy every 5 years after the age of 50.
What to Expect
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is very similar to a regular colonoscopy. You will likely be asked to prepare for the procedure with one or more enemas used approximately 2 hours prior to the sigmoidoscopy. You may also be put on a liquid diet for several days before the procedure to ensure that the colon is empty and ready for examination. Consumable liquids during this preparation period include the following:
- Sports drinks with electrolytes
- Plain coffee or tea
- Fat-free broth
During a Sigmoidoscopy
A sigmoidoscopy is a short and painless procedure that involves inserting a flexible tube called a sigmoidoscope into the anus. This sigmoidoscope has a light and camera attached at the end, which allows the physician a full few of the descending colon.
Recovery & Follow Up with Digestive Health Services
Once the sigmoidoscopy has been completed, you will be able to return home that same day and wait to hear the results of the exam from your gastroenterologist. If you experience any of the following side effects after a sigmoidoscopy you should call your doctor immediately as they are an indication of more severe complications:
- Bloody stool
- Severe abdominal pain