Digestive Care

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is an examination of the entire rectum, sigmoid colon and may include examination of a portion of the descending colon (or lower portion of the colon). A physician uses a flexible tube called a sigmoidscope inserted into the anus and advanced slowly upward.

Your doctor will discuss with you the reason for performing the procedure, whether alternative tests or procedures are available, and any possible risks and complications from the procedure.

Preparation Before the Procedure
Preparation After the Procedure
Day of the Procedure
Expectation After the Procedure
Possible Complications

Preparation Before the Procedure
No food or drink for six to eight hours before the examination. Ask your doctor about the specific time you should begin fasting. It is important for you to inform your doctor if you take prescription or over-the-counter drugs, as well as any allergies, several days prior to the examination. Be sure to discuss with the physician whether you should adjust any of your usual medications before the procedure. You should alert your doctor prior to procedure if you have conditions that require antibiotics, such as mitral valve prolapse and heart prosthesis.

Your physician will also give you detailed instructions to clean out the lower portion of your bowel. Preparation may include enemas, laxatives and dietary restrictions.  [Back to the top]

Day of the Procedure
Practices may vary among doctors whether sedation will be required before the procedure. While you are positioned on your left side, the endoscope is passed through the rectum, then the lower portion of the colon. There may be a feeling of pressure, bloating or cramping while the sigmoidscope is advanced. Generally, patients tolerate the procedure well. [Back to the top]

Expectation After the Procedure
If the procedure was done without the use of sedation, you will be discharged from the procedure area immediately after the procedure and can resume your diet and activity.

If the procedure was done with the use of sedation, you will be monitored in the GI lab or endoscopy area until the immediate effects of the medications have worn off, usually for 30 to 60 minutes. Please read the "Preparation After the Procedure" (below).

Because air has been introduced into the colon during the procedure, you may experience mild cramping or bloating. This will be relieved once you start walking and letting the gas pass. You should be able to resume your usual diet, unless you are instructed otherwise.

In most cases, your doctor can tell you the results on the day of the procedure; however, results may take several days if samples for biopsy or cytology were taken during procedure.

If you develop severe abdominal pain, fever, chills or rectal bleeding, contact your doctor immediately. [Back to the top]

Preparation After the Procedure (only if sedation is used for procedure)
Because of the aftereffects of the anesthetic agents or sedatives used during procedure, it is important that you make arrangement for someone to drive you home after the procedure. For your safety, you will be told to refrain from the following activities for at least 12 to 16 hours:

· Driving any vehicle or operating machinery because your reflexes and coordination are altered.
· Operating any motorized or non-motorized vehicles or modes of transportation on the day of the procedure.
· Going anywhere but home after being discharged from the hospital.
· Returning work on the day of the procedure.
· Consuming alcohol or using recreational drugs on the day of the procedure.
· Operating appliances (i.e., stove, iron, lawn mower) on the day of the procedure.
· Signing any important papers or making any important decisions on the day of the procedure.

You may need to make arrangements prior to procedure for home supervision due to the sedation.

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Possible Complications of Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
Flexible sigmoidoscopy and biopsy are generally safe when performed by physicians who have been specially trained and are experienced in these endoscopic procedures. Possible complications include a perforation (tear through the bowel wall) and bleeding from the site of the biopsy.

Although the complications after flexible sigmoidoscopy are rare, it is important for you to recognize early signs of any possible complication. Contact your physician if you notice any of the following symptoms: severe abdominal pain, fevers and chills, or rectal bleeding. It is important to note that rectal bleeding can occur even several days after a biopsy.  [Back to the top]