Flexible sigmoidoscopy is performed to see inside the sigmoid colon and rectum. This procedure can detect inflamed tissue, abnormal growths and ulcers.
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Flexible sigmoidoscopy 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 enables the doctor to see only the sigmoid colon, while colonoscopy allows the doctor to see the entire colon. Colonoscopy is the preferred screening method for cancers of the colon and rectum. However, to prepare for and perform a flexible sigmoidoscopy usually requires less time.
How Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Is Performed
A laxative and also an enema may be required the night before a flexible sigmoidoscopy. During the procedure, you’ll lie on your left side on an examination table. The doctor inserts a long, flexible, lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope, or scope, into the anus and slowly guides it through the rectum and into the sigmoid colon. The scope inflates the colon with air to give the doctor a better view.
A small camera mounted on the scope transmits a video image from inside the colon to a computer screen, allowing the doctor to carefully examine the tissues lining the sigmoid colon and rectum. The doctor may ask the patient to move periodically so the scope can be adjusted for better viewing.
When the scope reaches the transverse colon, the scope is slowly withdrawn while the lining of the colon is carefully examined again.
The procedure takes about 20 minutes.
After the Test
Cramping or bloating may occur during the first hour after the procedure.