Reasons to Perform Sigmoidoscopy
• abdominal pain
• constipation or diarrhea
• rectal bleeding
• change in bowel habits
• radiographic abnormality
• suspected colitis; infection or inflammation of a chronic nature
• colorectal cancer screening

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

 

 

 

Patient Information on Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

 

Overview

A sigmoidoscopy is an examination of the lower portion (sigmoid) of the colon using a flexible instrument with a light and camera.  The instrument is passed under direct guidance a distance of 1-2 feet corresponding to 20-40% of the colon being visualized.  This usually incorporates detailed inspection of the lining of the colon as well as obtaining samples for analysis of tissue specimens under the microscope.  This is performed commonly in the office or endoscopy center after the patient receives only enemas to empty the lower colon as no oral-based bowel preparation is required.  Although mild discomfort can be experienced the exam is brief and the cramping is very transient.    

 

FAQs

Is sedation used for sigmoidoscopy?

In most instances sedation is not used as this procedure is a brief and generally well tolerated by patients.  Currently, a small diameter very flexible instrument is used making this a more comfortable exam versus older generation sigmoidoscopes that were larger in size and sometimes rigid.

What are the risks of sigmoidoscopy?

Although extremely remote in possibility the risks include bleeding, infection or bowel perforation.  The frequency of the latter circumstance is estimated as less then 1 in 10,000

What if precancerous polyps(tumors) or cancer is found at the time of sigmoidoscopy?

If this occurs then thorough inspection of the entire colon via colonoscopy is needed to identify and/or remove any additional polyps or cancers that could be discovered.