Flexible Sigmoidoscopy


Flexible sigmoidoscopy is an internal exam of the rectum and lower third of the large intestine using a thin flexible lighted tube (“scope”).  The doctor may take pictures and biopsy tissue to be checked under a microscope if needed.  Biopsies or removal of polyps are painless procedures.


The most common reasons for a sigmoidoscopy include:

  • Diagnosis of diarrhea
  • Diverticulosis
  • Anal fissure
  • Hemorrhoids


Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions.  Generally, a small Fleet enema is used to cleanse the lower intestine.  Once the enema is given, do not eat until after the procedure.  If you take Coumadin, Plavix or another blood thinner, consult with the physician who prescribed it.  Sedation is generally not required; however, if you do require sedation, an intravenous line will be started.  If sedation is given, you will need to arrange for a family member or a friend to drive you home following the examination.  You will not be permitted to drive if you receive sedation.


Prior to the procedure, a nurse will review your medical history and medications.  During the sigmoidoscopy, your blood pressure and pulse will be monitored. The physician will insert a flexible scope into the rectum and slowly advance to the colon.  The physician can examine the lining of this area.  Air is introduced into the colon to help the physician to see better.  The physician can take biopsies and/or remove polyps at this time.


After the procedure, the doctor will review your test results.  Prior to discharge,  your discharge instructions will be reviewed with you by the nursing staff.  A written copy of the procedure findings and instructions and patient education will be sent home with you.  You may feel bloated and will be encouraged to pass the air.


Sigmoidoscopy is a safe procedure.  The following is a list of complications:

  • Bleeding
  • Bowel perforation
  • Perforation


Sigmoidoscopy is a very safe procedure that provides important information of the distal colon only.