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Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is a Gastroenterology procedure used to see inside the sigmoid colon and rectum. This procedure can detect inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. This is used to look for early signs of cancer and can help doctors diagnose unexplained changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, bleeding from the anus, and weight loss.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Preparation:

Before a flexible sigmoidoscopy exam, you’ll need to empty your colon. Any residue in your colon may obscure the view of your colon and rectum during the exam. To empty your colon, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. You may be asked to:


1) Follow a special diet the day before the exam. Your doctor may ask you not to eat the day before the exam. Drinks may be limited to clear liquids — plain water, broth, carbonated beverages, and tea and coffee without milk or cream. You may be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

2) Take a laxative the night before the exam. If your doctor asks you to take a laxative, it will be in either pill or liquid form.

3) Use an enema kit. You will need to use an over-the-counter enema kit — typically a few hours before the exam — to empty your colon. You may be asked to take two enemas.

4) Adjust your medications. Remind your doctor of your medications at least a week before the exam — especially if you have diabetes, if you take medications or supplements that contain iron, or if you take aspirin or other blood thinners. You may need to adjust your dosages or stop taking the medication temporarily.

Day of Flexible Sigmoidoscopy:

A flexible sigmoidoscopy exam typically takes about 15 minutes. It may require slightly more time if biopsies are taken. Sedation and pain medications usually aren’t necessary. If a polyp is found, your doctor will likely recommend a colonoscopy to look at your whole colon, as other polyps may be present further up.

After the exam, you may have mild abdominal discomfort. You may feel bloated or pass gas for a few hours as you clear the air from your colon. Walking may help relieve any discomfort. You should be able to return to your usual diet and activities right away. You may also notice a small amount of blood with your first bowel movement after the exam, which usually isn’t cause for alarm. Consult your doctor if you continue to pass blood or if you have persistent abdominal pain or a fever over 100 F (37.8 C).

Information Provided By: Mayo Clinic ©