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Sigmoidoscopy is a diagnostic technique that allows your doctor to view the lower end of the colon, precisely the S shaped portion of the descending colon that projects towards the anus.


Uses of sigmoidoscopy
  • Sigmoidoscopy forms of the screening techniques for colorectal cancer.
  • Diagnostic test for rectal bleeding, problematic bowel habits, chronic diarrhoea, anal pain, intestinal problems, etc.
  • To investigate presence of polyps, tumours, diverticula, haemorrhoids, strictures, ulcers and inflammation in the sigmoid colon.


How is sigmoidoscopy performed?

It is also known as flexible sigmoidoscopy, is performed with the help of a short, flexible, lighted tube, called a sigmoidoscope. The lubricated probe is inserted via the rectum and is moved to the sigmoid colon. Air is passed through the sigmoidoscope to inflate the colon and obtain a better view.

The tiny camera attached to one end of the sigmoidoscope sends images of the colon to the computer kept outside.


What to consider before undergoing sigmoidoscopy?
  • Let your doctor know if are pregnant
  • You have a heart condition, have pacemaker, a lung disease, bleeding disorders, or any other thing
  • Present your drug history to your doctor, including contraceptives, OTC pills and supplements
  • Notify your doctor if you are allergic to some medicine or anaesthetic agents
  • A confirmatory test for findings of x rays of similar health complications


How to prepare for sigmoidoscopy?

Your doctor will ask you to empty your bowels completely before the test for which a laxative or an enema solution would be given

Your doctor will ask you to eat light and consume fluids in moderate amount

The dosage of the medicines you are taking might be adjusted after evaluating your medical condition

You will have to change your dress with the gown provided by the nurse


What happens during the procedure?

Sedation is generally not needed. You will be lying down on the table on your side with your knees folded up towards your chest.

When air is passed, you will get a strong urge to pass bowel. The procedure is though painless, you can experience mild discomfort like spasms and pressure.

You need to maintain normal breathing. The instrument will be removed after the diagnosis is complete.

Sigmoidoscopy takes 15-20 minutes.


What to expect after the procedure?

Your doctor will advise you to lie down for a few minutes to avoid feeling dizzy after standing.

You are most likely to experience too much flatulence and mild gas pain, which is very normal. Pinch of blood might come out while passing bowel which is again not a cause of concern.

You will be released from the hospital in sometime and you can resume activities and diet.


What to watch out for?

Notify your doctor immediately on observing: 

  • Unusual bleeding from the rectum during your bowels or any kind of blood clots
  • Running high fever with chills
  • Sever pain or cramping in rectum or abdomen


Are there any risks associated with sigmoidoscopy?

Although chances are less, complications include: 

  • Puncture of intestinal wall
  • Tear in the rectum or anus
  • Continuous rectal bleeding


How effective is sigmoidoscopy?

Sigmoidoscopy is one of the most efficient techniques for confirming the presence of the aforementioned medical conditions. If polyps or tumours have been found out, then it would be removed simultaneously. This, it forms the basis for further medical treatment and cure.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: March 26, 2014