What is Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is an examination of the lower part of your large bowel using a flexible camera.
The flexible sigmoidoscope is a special camera, which can examine the left side of the bowel and only takes about 5-15 minutes. It provides a lot of information about the left side of your large bowel.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a test that allows the doctor to examine your bowel from the anus to the descending colon with a small, flexible endoscope.
The test is performed to investigate some symptoms such as a change in bowel habit, rectal bleeding; or to review a problem they may have found before, for example polyps or colitis. This will benefit you by providing a clear diagnosis. If you prefer not to be investigated, we advise you to discuss the implications with your doctor.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is one of the simplest and safest methods to examine the lower part of the colon. Therefore, it is often the first test that the doctor requests. It may however be necessary to undertake further tests, such as a colonoscopy, barium enema, or a CT scan. If you wish, please discuss with your doctor which is the best test for you.
What preparation will I need?
You can eat and drink normally on the day of the test unless you choose to be sedated, in which case you should not eat or drink for 4 hours before the test. Shortly before your procedure, one of the nurses in the endoscopy unit will give you an enema. This is a liquid medicine that is given through your back passage. It works as a laxative that cleans the end of your bowel.
What are the complications of flexible sigmoidoscopy?
Complications are extremely rare, but it is important that you know all the risks before you decide to go ahead with the test.
Minor complicationsSome patients can experience abdominal discomfort or pain.
Using sedation can cause breathing complications in up to 1 in 200 procedures, which usually are not serious. To reduce this risk, we monitor your pulse and oxygen levels at all times throughout the test.
What happens after the test?
You will be moved into the recovery area where a nurse will review you. If you have received no sedation, you may go home immediately after the procedure. You may feel a little discomfort due to the air inserted during the procedure - this is normal.
You must arrange for someone to escort you home as you may have been given a sedative. Be aware that parking at the hospital is very limited. If no escort is available, please carry enough money to pay for a taxi.
RisksThe risks of the procedure include damage to the colon by the tube, bleeding, abdominal pain, and infection.
During the Procedure
The doctor will have you lie down on your left side with your knees bent and pulled up slightly toward your head.
The doctor will examine your rectum first with a finger lubricated with special jelly. The tip of the scope is then lubricated with the same jelly and slowly inserted into your rectum.
The doctor will slowly advance the tube through your lower intestine. In order to help the doctor see, a small amount of air and water may be placed in the intestine through the end of the scope. If the doctor encounters a suspicious area of intestine, he or she may remove a small piece of the tissue for analysis. This is done with the same scope and is known as a biopsy.
The doctor will end the procedure and tell you the outcome of your study
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