Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that a gastroenterologist uses to visualize the inside lining of the rectum and the lower part of the large intestine. It is an incomplete colonoscopy and is an incomplete evaluation of the bowel. A flexible tube with a light and video camera is inserted through the patient's bottom for the procedure. This is usually an outpatient procedure.

Will I be asleep?

We generally do this procedure with minimal-to-no sedation. However, there are always some exceptions.

Why is a flexible sigmoidoscopy done and what can physicians do during the procedure?

Your doctor may choose to do a colonoscopy for many reasons. Some reasons are:

  • Evaluation of abdominal pain
  • Evaluation of rectal bleeding when it is thought to occur only from the rectum or lower part of the large intestine
  • Generally, if a polyp or cancer is being considered, it is better to do a complete evaluation with a colonoscopy

During the test, your physician can:

  • Look and check for inflammation
  • Remove small polyps
  • Take biopsies

What are the side effects of the test?

The procedure is very safe. Complications are uncommon. However, like all medical procedures, some complications can arise. Complications that can happen include:

  • Bleeding or Continued Bleeding (sometimes, it is not possible to stop a bleed through a flexible sigmoidoscopy and surgery might be required)
  • Infection(s)
  • Perforation (a poked hole). This would be serious and might require surgery.
  • Missing an ulcer, mass, or polyp.
  • Patients who have other underlying diseases can have complications of the underlying disease during the procedure

Overall, the procedure is extremely safe and complications are rare.

Do I need a ride after the test?

If you did not receive sedation for the test, then you do not read a ride. If you did receive sedation for the test, then you do need a ride. If in doubt, please make sure you ask your physician in advance whether or not you will need a ride.

When will I know my test results?

There is some information the physician can give you right away after the test. If a biopsy has been taken, it might take up to a week for the physician to get those results back. The biopsy results will be shared with you at your follow-up appointment.