Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

What is a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

Flexible sigmoidoscopy enables the physician to look at the lining of the large intestine from the rectum to the descending colon. Your GI doctor may use the procedure to find the cause of diarrhea, abdominal/rectal pain, bleeding, cancer or any condition which may involve the last portion of the colon. 

If anything unusual is in your rectum or colon, like a polyp or inflamed tissue, the physician can remove a piece or the entire portion. The physician will send that piece of tissue (biopsy) to the lab for testing.

Complications are rare and may include abdominal pain, bleeding, infection and/or perforation of the colon.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy takes about 10 to 15 minutes. During the procedure, you might feel pressure and slight cramping in your lower abdomen. You will feel better afterward when the air leaves your colon.

What preparation is required?

The distal colon and rectum must be completely empty for flexible sigmoidoscopy to be thorough and safe, so the physician will likely instruct you to drink only clear liquids for 12 to 24 hours beforehand. A liquid diet means fat-free broth, jello, strained fruit juice, water, plain coffee, plain tea, or diet soda. The night before or right before the procedure, you may also be given an enema, which is a liquid solution that washes out the intestines. Your physician may give you other special instructions.