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Sigmoidoscopy

Definition

Sigmoidoscopy is a procedure used to see inside the sigmoid colon and rectum. The sigmoid colon is the area of the large intestine nearest the rectum.

Alternative Names

Flexible sigmoidoscopy; Sigmoidoscopy - flexible; Proctoscopy; Proctosigmoidoscopy; Rigid sigmoidoscopy

How the Test is Performed

During the test:

Sigmoidoscopy using a rigid scope may be done to treat problems of the anus or rectum.

How to Prepare for the Test

Your doctor or nurse will tell you how to prepare for the exam. You will use an enema to empty your bowels. This is usually done 1 hour before the sigmoidoscopy.

On the morning of the procedure, eat a light breakfast.

How the Test will Feel

During the exam you may feel:

After the test, your body will pass the air that was put into your colon.

Children may be given medicine to make them sleep lightly (sedated) for this procedure.

Why the Test is Performed

Your doctor may recommend this test to look for the cause of: 

This test can also be used to:

Normal Results

A normal test result will show no problems with the color, texture, and size of the lining of the sigmoid colon, rectal mucosa, rectum, and anus.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results can indicate:

Risks

There is a slight risk of bowel perforation (tearing a hole) and bleeding at the biopsy sites. The overall risk is very small.

References

Kimmey MB. Complications of gastrointestinal endoscopy. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 40.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines): Colorectal cancer screening. Version 2.2013. Available at http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/colorectal_screening.pdf. Accessed October 24, 2013.

Pasricha PJ. Gastrointestinal endoscopy. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 136.



Review Date: 10/14/2013
Reviewed By: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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