Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

WHY IS IT DONE?

Your doctor has recommended that you have a procedure called a flexible sigmoidoscopy. This is a procedure whereby a flexible tube is passed into the rectum and up the lower third of the colon. Because fiberoptics are used, this allows a direct look at the colon and rectum. This procedure is recommended by the American Cancer Society as a screening study once a person turns age 50 or for problems such a rectal bleeding, longstanding diarrhea or a question of diverticulosis.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

The flexible sigmoidoscopy is typically performed in the doctor’s office and usually lasts anywhere from two to five minutes. Prior to undergoing the procedure, the patient should use two standard Fleet enemas (the procedure is described below).

DURING THE PROCEDURE

During the procedure, you will be lying on your left side on the examination table. A lubricant is then applied around the anus and the flexible sigmoidoscope is then introduced into the rectum. Because the rectum and colon are typically in a collapsed state, it is necessary for the doctor to introduce some air to expand the colon and rectum to more properly visualize the lining. This may cause you to feel bloated. If you have the urge to pass the air, you may do so. Because the large intestine has some turns, at times when passing the scope, the patient may experience some crampiness or a tugging type sensation. This is usually relieved as the instrument is straightened. Once the procedure is completed, you will be helped to dress, and then you will come back to the consultation room to review the findings. Patients having the procedure for rectal bleeding most often are found to have hemorrhoidal type problems. However, at times, other problems can be seen, such as polyps, diverticula and occasionally tumors.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

After the exam is complete, you may still feel some bloating, but this should pass, on resuming normal activity. If this feeling persists beyond several hours or if you experience abdominal pain, nausea, fever or chills, you should contact this office right away.

PREPARATION

Preparation for this test is reasonably simple. There is no special diet necessary, and you may eat your meals and take your medications on the day of the procedure (although aspirin, non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or blood thinners should be stopped 3-4 days prior to the procedure). You will need 2 Fleet Enemas. Proper positioning for the enemas can be found on the carton containing the enema. The first enema is taken 2 hours before the procedure, the second enema is taken 1 hour prior to the procedure. The enema may work quickly. It is important to hold the enema for at least 5 minutes prior to evacuation.