Digestive Diseases and Nutrition

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Flexible SigmoidoscopyFlexible sigmoidosocpy (in short Flex Sig) procedure is a real-time visual examination of the lining of the last part of the colon (sigmoid) and rectum. The procedure is performed by board-certified gastroenterologists and trained internists or family physicians.

The instrument used for this procedure is called the flexible sigmoidoscope, a thin flexible tube that carries a high definition wide-angle camera, a bright light source and working channels at its tip. The instrument allows the physician not only to take a look but also obtain tissue samples known as biopsies. Biopsies are then examined by a pathologist.

The procedure carries minimal discomfort and usually is performed without any sedation. Sedation can be provided if requested by the patient and will necessitate that an adult driver takes the patient home that day.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy helps your gastroenterologist evaluate and treat lower gastrointestinal symptoms such as rectal bleeding. Colonoscopy, for the most part, has replaced flexible sigmoidoscopy as a screening tool for colon polyps and cancer. The procedure can be done on an outpatient or inpatient basis.

In preparation of the procedure, your physician may ask you to stop certain medications before your procedure. Otherwise, two Fleet’s enemas taken the morning of the procedure suffice. You will need to be on clear liquid diet for eight hours if sedation is required.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is very safe. The risks associated with this procedure are rare and including anal or abdominal discomfort, bleeding, and perforation.

If you require sedation you will be monitored for any adverse events for a period up to one hour. You may feel a little bloated from the air that is introduced through the instrumet, but this will wear off in a short period of time. You will be permitted to carry on any normal activity for the remainder of the day except for driving a motorized vehicle so you will need an adult driver to pick you up that day.