What is Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure used to examine the rectum and lower colon. While it is similar to a colonoscopy, it does not reach as far into the colon. Because of this, flexible sigmoidoscopy alone cannot be used to detect cancer or polyps that may develop into cancer farther into the colon.
Your doctor may recommend this procedure to:
- Help him or her determine the cause of your abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, chronic diarrhea or other intestinal issues.
- Screen for colon cancer in patients over the age of 50.
How is Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Performed?
During this test, sedation is not usually necessary, though may be available in special circumstances. To begin this procedure, you will lie on the exam table on your left side with your knees brought up toward your abdomen. A thin, flexible lighted tube with a camera attached called a sigmoidoscope will then be inserted into the rectum. Air will be placed into the colon through this tube to provide your doctor with a better view of the colon lining. The camera of the sigmoidoscope will also send images to a monitor for your doctor to view. If needed, tissue samples may be taken. This exam usually takes 15-30 minutes to complete.
Following Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
Following a flexible sigmoidoscopy, there is no downtime needed, so you can return home. Some patients may experience mild abdominal discomfort including bloating. Walking can often help to ease any discomfort related to excess gas. A small amount of blood may also be present with your first bowel movement after the test, which is normal. Your doctor will speak with you regarding your test results and if additional testing is required.
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How Can I Prepare for My Procedure?
Before your flexible sigmoidoscopy, you will need to empty your colon, which may involve the following preparation:
- Avoid eating the day before your procedure. Drinks may be limited to include clear liquids including water, broth, tea and coffee without cream or milk and carbonated beverages.
- You may need to take a laxative or use an enema kit in order to empty your colon.
- Speak with your doctor regarding which medications are OK to continue and which ones should be temporarily discontinued for the test.
Remember that your doctor will provide you with specific prep instructions, which should be followed closely for the best results.
Your South Denver GI Team
At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Flexible Sigmoidoscopy or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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