Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

What is Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure used to examine the lower part of the colon (sigmoid colon) and rectum. It involves inserting a flexible, thin tube with a camera (sigmoidoscope) through the rectum to inspect the colon's lining for abnormalities.

Why would I need this?

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is primarily used for screening and diagnosing conditions such as colorectal cancer, polyps, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the lower part of the colon.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy may occasionally be preferred over colonoscopy because the preparation for sigmoidoscopy and the test itself may take less time. In addition, an anesthetic is often not required. There is a lower risk of direct harm such as a tear in the colon or rectum wall (perforation) with sigmoidoscopy, compared with colonoscopy. You should have this procedure at least once every 5 years if doing a flexible sigmoidoscopy for colon cancer screening purposes.

What happens during Flexible sigmoidoscopy?

During a flexible sigmoidoscopy, you will typically lie on your side while Doctor Patel gently inserts the sigmoidoscope through the rectum. Doctor Patel will carefully examine the colon's lining for any abnormalities and may take tissue samples (biopsies) if necessary.

What should I prepare for the procedure?

Before a flexible sigmoidoscopy, you may need to follow dietary restrictions and use enemas or laxatives to cleanse the lower colon. Your doctor will provide specific instructions to ensure a successful procedure.

To empty your colon, follow your Doctor Patel’s instructions carefully. You may be asked to:

  • Follow a special diet the day before the exam. Do not eat solid food after midnight the day before your exam. Drinks may be limited to clear liquids — plain water, broth, carbonated beverages, and tea and coffee without milk or cream.
  • Take a laxative the night before the exam. –If you normally have constipation, please take 2 Dulcolax pills the night before the exam.
  • Use an enema kit. You will need to use an over-the-counter enema kit to empty your colon. Take first Fleet Enema at 8 p.m the night before your exam. Take the 2nd fleet enemas 2 hours before your leave for the procedure.
  • Adjust your medications. Remind your doctor of your medications at least a week before the exam — especially if you have diabetes, if you take medications or supplements that contain iron, or if you take aspirin or other blood thinners. You may need to adjust your dosages or stop taking the medication temporarily.

What happens after the procedure?

After the flexible sigmoidoscopy, you may experience minor discomfort, such as bloating or cramping. You can usually resume your normal activities and diet immediately. Doctor Patel will discuss the findings and any necessary follow-up care. You may also notice a small amount of blood with your first bowel movement after the exam, which usually isn't cause for alarm. If bleeding, abdominal pain, or fever persist, contact our office immediately at 949-298-7112 and go to your nearest emergency room.


Kumkum Patel MD, MPH

Board-certified Gastroenterologist.
IBS and Motility Specialist

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