Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

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What is flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to examine the rectum and the lower (sigmoid) colon. The flexible sigmoidoscope is a flexible tube 60 cm long and about the thickness of your little finger. It is inserted gently into the anus and advanced slowly into the rectum and the lower colon. It is an accurate and simple method of investigating the cause of rectal bleeding, change in bowel habit, and rectal symptoms such as pain and diarrhea. Flexible sigmoidoscopy also is a part of colon screening and surveillance for colon cancer.

What is the preparation for flexible sigmoidoscopy?

In order to obtain accurate results, the rectum and the lower colon must be completely clean of stool. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions on how to cleanse your colon. In general, this requires the use of one or two enemas prior to the procedure and may also call for a laxative and some dietary modifications. Under special circumstances, such as the presence of significant diarrhea, the preparation may be waived.

Do I continue my medications for flexible sigmoidoscopy?

In general, you can continue to take your regular medicines. You should, however, inform your doctor of all the prescription and non-prescription medications you are taking as well as any allergies you may have. Certain drugs increase the risk of bleeding if biopsies are performed; these include aspirin, blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), and NSAIDs such as Motrin and Advil. Your doctor may ask you to stop these medications for several days before the procedure. You should also alert your doctor if you have an artificial heart valve, hip or knee prosthesis, or have a disease of the heart valves such as mitral stenosis, aortic stenosis, or mitral regurgitation. Patients with these conditions may need antibiotics prior to colonoscopy, or dental procedures to prevent infection of the heart valves or the prosthesis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/14/2014

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