Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Flexible sigmoidoscopy allows your doctor to examine a portion of the colon (your large intestine) and the rectum by inserting a flexible, thick tube into the anus and advancing it up through the rectum.

What Can I Expect During Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

During the procedure, your doctor will have you lie on your side as he moves the sigmoidoscope through your rectum and colon. Once the instrument is withdrawn, your doctor will examine the lining of the intestine. You may experience some pressure, cramping, or bloating during the procedure.

What If My Doctor Finds Something Abnormal During The Procedure?

If the flexible sigmoidoscopy finds an area that is abnormal or needs further evaluation, your doctor may take a biopsy (sample of the colon lining). If your doctor finds any polyps — growths on the lining of the colon — he or she might take a biopsy of them as well. Polyps vary in size and shape – the ones that are “hyperplastic” may not need removal however the ones known as “adenomas” may be precancerous. Your doctor may also order a colonoscopy to remove large polyps and small adenomas if needed.

What Happens After A Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

When your procedure is done, the doctor will explain the results. You may feel mild cramping or bloating due to the air that has passed into the colon during the exam. These symptoms will disappear quickly once you pass gas. You should be able to resume normal activities once you leave the hospital or doctor’s office.

What Are Possible Complications?

Flexible sigmoidoscopy/biopsy are typically safe procedures when performed by trained and experienced specialists and doctors. Complications are rare, however in some cases you may experience some early signs of possible complications. If you notice fevers and chills, abdominal pain, or rectal bleeding of more than half a cup, contact your doctor immediately. It is important to note that rectal bleeding can occur several days after a biopsy in this region.