Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that is performed to evaluate the lower part of the lower intestine (colon) and the rectum. A flexible sigmoidoscopy is used to investigate the possible causes of intestinal symptoms or to screen for colon cancer every five years.

During a flexible sigmoidoscopy, a thin, flexible tube (sigmoidoscope) is inserted into the rectum, with a tiny camera attached to the end, so your doctor can examine your colon.

Preparing for a flexible sigmoidoscopy

For a successful flexible sigmoidoscopy, your rectum and sigmoid colon must be cleaned out, so your doctor will instruct you to only drink clear liquids leading up to the procedure and take laxatives and/or enemas. It is important to discuss any medical conditions with your doctor. In the days leading up to your flexible sigmoidoscopy, you will follow certain procedures provided by your doctor.

What to expect during a flexible sigmoidoscopy

A flexible sigmoidoscopy typically lasts between five and 15 minutes. This procedure does not cause much discomfort, so a sedative is generally not administered. During the exam, you will be instructed to lay on your side, and your doctor will insert the sigmoidoscope into your rectum. The sigmoidoscope has a camera at its tip, and it will take pictures as it moves through your colon so your doctor can further study them. If a polyp is detected during the exam, your doctor may suggest you get a full colonoscopy, since a flexible sigmoidoscopy can only see the lower part of the colon.

After a flexible sigmoidoscopy, you may feel slight abdominal pain or cramping for a few hours after the procedure, or you may notice blood in your first bowel movement. Neither of these symptoms are causes for alarm, and you should be able to return to your daily schedule right after the procedure.

Forms for your Visit

For important information on how to prepare for your upcoming procedure, please download the forms below.