What Is Flexible Sigmoidoscopy? How Does It Help?

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Procedure in Fort Collins, CO

Flexible sigmoidoscopy allows your doctor to examine the lining of the rectum and part of the colon (large intestine) by inserting a flexible tube called a sigmoidoscope. Roughly the thickness of your finger, the sigmoidoscope is inserted into the anus and slowly advanced into the rectum and lower colon. Centers for Gastroenterology provides flexible sigmoidoscopy procedures in Northern Colorado to help identify and diagnose ulcers, polyps, cancer, and other issues involving the rectum, colon, and bowels. For over 40 years, our mission has been to deliver the highest quality gastrointestinal healthcare to patients of all ages in Northern Colorado. With offices in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley and Steamboat Springs, we provide many outpatient services. Contact us today with any questions or concerns or to schedule an appointment.

Why Do Doctors Use Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

Our physicians at the Centers for Gastroenterology utilize flexible sigmoidoscopy to screen for colon and rectal cancer, colon polyps, rectal ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and more. If you’ve experienced unexplained weight loss, changes in your bowel activity, abdominal pains, or bleeding from your anus, flexible sigmoidoscopy allows your doctor to take a closer look at your rectum and colon to diagnose the problem. When cancers and other issues are detected in their early stages, doctors have a better chance of treating or curing them. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is less invasive than a colonoscopy (complete colon exam), although you may need to schedule one of those, too, depending on the results.

What Can I Expect During Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

Flexible sigmoidoscopy procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and do not require sedation. Flexible sigmoidoscopy procedures typically take less than half an hour and are well-tolerated by most patients. You might experience a feeling of pressure, bloating, or cramping during the procedure. You will lie on your side with your knees drawn up while your doctor advances the sigmoidoscope through the rectum and colon. As your doctor withdraws the instrument, they will carefully examine the lining of the intestine. Taking slow, deep breaths may lessen the feeling of cramping. Afterward, your doctor will discuss the results with you. If any polyps were discovered, a biopsy (removal of tissue) might be needed. If a biopsy is ordered, it could take up to two weeks to get your results back from the lab.

What Preparation Is Required Before the Procedure?

Your doctor will tell you what cleansing routine to use before your flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure at our clinics in Northern Colorado. In general, preparation consists of one or two enemas prior to the procedure but could include laxatives or dietary modifications as well. A clear liquid diet the day before and overnight fasting are usually recommended to cleanse the bowels. However, in some circumstances, your doctor might advise you to forgo any special preparation. Because the rectum and lower colon must be completely empty for the procedure to be accurate, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Be sure to discuss your medical history, allergies, and medications with your doctor, as you may need to make some adjustments with those as well prior to your procedure.

What Are the Risks of a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Procedure?

Complications from a flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure are extremely rare but include delayed bleeding, severe abdominal pain, or colon perforation, which occurs when there is a tear in the colon lining. Many patients experience minor cramps, bloating, or abdominal pain for a few hours after the procedure. If any polyps were removed, you might experience minor rectal bleeding. However, most patients can resume their normal activities and diets not long after the procedure. Should you experience fever, chills, dizziness, weakness, severe abdominal pain, bloody bowel movements, or heavy rectal bleeding, contact your doctor immediately, as you could have an infection that will need to be treated. Should you experience delayed bleeding or colon perforation, surgery may be necessary.

Contact Centers for Gastroenterology With Any Concerns Today

If you have any questions or concerns regarding flexible sigmoidoscopy, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our physicians are board-certified in Internal Medicine with additional certifications in Gastroenterology. If you’re a new patient, you’ll find our patient forms online to help you expedite the check-in process on the day of your procedure. We also have other helpful patient resources available, including frequently asked questions, billing and insurance information, and more to help you prepare for your procedure.