Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

What is Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

Your doctor has recommended that you have a flexible sigmoidoscopy. It is essentially a shorter version of colonoscopy. The sigmoidoscope is a thin flexible fiberoptic tube that is passed through the rectum into the lower third of the large intestine.

While it may have been replaced by colonoscopy for the most part as a form of colon cancer screening, flexible sigmoidoscopy may still be used for that purpose if preferred by the patient. Sigmoidoscopy is often helpful to assess for potential causes of rectal pain, sources of rectal bleeding, or extent of inflammation from colitis.

The procedure itself may take 5 to 10 minutes. There is a minimal prep. It is generally performed without sedation. You will be lying on your right side, and it should not cause significant discomfort. The doctor will be introducing some air in order to see, and this may result in mild abdominal pressure or discomfort, as if you have to move your bowels. This sensation will pass after the examination is over. Should an abnormality be detected, the doctor may take a biopsy through the operating channel in the scope. This is painless and may result in minimal bleeding. The other major complication of flexible sigmoidoscopy is perforation, or puncture of the bowel wall. It would be extremely unusual with flexible sigmoidoscopy.

After the procedure, the physician will be happy to review the results with you. We expect that you would be able to eat and to resume all of your usual activities.