Flexible sigmoidoscopy (SIG-moy-DAH-skuh-pee) enables the physician to look at the inside of the large intestine, from the rectum through the last part of the colon (the sigmoid or descending colon). Physicians may use the procedure to find the cause of diarrhea, abdominal pain or constipation. They also use it to look for early signs of cancer in the descending colon and rectum. With flexible sigmoidoscopy, the physician can see bleeding, inflammation, abnormal growths and ulcers in the descending colon and rectum. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is not sufficient to detect polyps or cancer in the ascending or transverse colon (the other two-thirds of the colon).
For the procedure, you will lie on your left side on the examining table. The physician will insert a short, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum and slowly guide it into your colon. The tube is called a sigmoidoscope (sig-MOY-duh-skope). The scope transmits an image of the inside of the rectum and colon which the physician carefully examines to check the lining of these organs. The scope also blows air into these organs, which inflates them and helps the physician see better.
If anything unusual is in your rectum or colon, such as a polyp or inflamed tissue, the physician can remove a piece of it using instruments inserted into the scope. The physician will send that piece of tissue (biopsy) to the lab for testing. Bleeding and puncture of the colon are possible complications of sigmoidoscopy; however, such complications are uncommon.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy takes 10 to 20 minutes. During the procedure, you might feel pressure and slight cramping in your lower abdomen. You will feel better when the air leaves your colon, after the procedure is finished.
For more information or to schedule an appointment or referral, call 919.938.4404.
Jordan Digestive Diagnostic Center
649 Guy Road
Clayton, NC 27520