Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Submitted on March 27, 2012

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that is quite similar to a colonoscopy. The difference is that instead of a scope going deep inside the intestines, a sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that examines the very last bit of the large intestines before the area of the rectum. A flexible sigmoidoscope is the instrument that is used for this procedure and has replaced the rigid sigmoidoscope.

Reasons for Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

A flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure is performed to check for any kind of abnormalities in the tissue of the sigmoid colon. The large intestines are the last site of digestion of food that contains bacteria further up in the colon. After that anything which is left to be absorbed is absorbed here. Feces are the end result and this goes down to the rectum via the sigmoid colon. Colorectal cancers are usually present in this part of the colon and there is also the possibility of some kind of inflammation in the intestinal tissue. It is also done to check for the reasons of diarrhea and constipation.


Flexible sigmoidoscopy preparation involves not eating any kind of solid food for at least 12 hours before the procedure. The night before the procedure, a suppository needs to be placed in the rectum after an enema is performed. This will ensure that no feces would end up being in the colon when the procedure is performed. This will also ensure a clear view of the colon when the sigmoidoscopy is being performed.


The test is performed with the patient lying on his or her left side and then having the flexible scope pushed into the rectum. This is done with the help of a sheath. A billow will then pump air into the intestines and the patient might feel some discomfort during this time. This is done to ensure that the intestines are inflated and clear to view. The sigmoidoscopy may also involve another procedure called a biopsy in which some of the intestinal tissue is removed for lab analysis. There is some risk of bleeding that can occur and this has to be carefully monitored. On removal of polyps in the intestines, bleeding is sometimes inevitable along with perforation. If this happens, immediate surgery is mandated or the contents of the colon will leak into the peritoneum, which is fatal for the body.