Flexible sigmoidoscopy enables the gastroenterologist to look at the inside of the large intestine from the rectum through the last part of the colon, called the sigmoid.  Sigmoidoscopy may be used to find the cause of diarrheaabdominal pain,  constipation, benign and malignant polyps, as well as early signs of cancer in the lowest part of the colon.

The physician inserts a short, flexible, scope into the rectum and slowly guides it into the sigmoid colon. The scope transmits an image of the inside of the rectum and colon, which allows  careful examination of the lining of the lower colon. Biopsies (tissue samples) can be obtained when necessary.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy takes 10 to 20 minutes. During the procedure, the patient might feel pressure and slight cramping in the lower abdomen, but he or she will feel better afterward when the air leaves the colon.  Flexible sigmoidoscopy can be done with or without sedation, depending on patient preference.  Adequate preparation is mandatory – please see prep instructions on the right side of this page.

Complications are rare, but do include bleeding, perforation, gas pain, and adverse reaction to medication.