During a sigmoidoscopy, a doctor uses a flexible, lighted tube to examine the inner lining of your lower large intestine (which is also called the colon). Your doctor may request a sigmoidoscopy to look for abnormal growths (such as tumors or polyps), hemorrhoids, inflammation, bleeding and other colon conditions. Doctors can also remove small growths and collect tissue samples during a sigmoidoscopy.
Prior to your sigmoidoscopy, you will be given pain medication and a mild sedative. These will make your screening virtually painless. In fact, you may be so sleepy and relaxed that you won't remember much about the test at all. Most patients report very little, if any, discomfort from their sigmoidoscopy.
After the test, you will continue to feel sleepy for a few hours and may have bloating or gas pains until the air used during your procedure has completely passed out of your system. Walking may help relieve the gas pains.
The preparation for a sigmoidoscopy usually involves a thorough cleaning of the lower colon. Before the test:
- You may be instructed to follow a liquid diet for one or two days.
- You may be instructed to fast for up to 12 hours beforehand.
- You may need an enema the night before and another an hour before the examination.
- You should talk with your doctor to find out if you need to stop taking certain medicines, such as blood thinners, before the test.
- You should tell your doctor if you have had recent bowel surgery or have been diagnosed with peritonitis, diverticulitis or toxic megacolon.
Follow-up tests, such as colonoscopy, may be needed after sigmoidoscopy. If growths were observed in the lower section of your colon, a colonoscopy may be needed to examine the upper section. You may also have traces of blood in your stool for a few days if a biopsy was done or a polyp was removed.
Your physician can schedule a sigmoidoscopy appointment with one of our gastroenterologists for you. An initial consultation with a physician is recommended to determine the appropriateness of this screening for your specific condition.