Everything You Need To Know About Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

flexible sigmoidoscopy

You may be wondering, “What is flexible sigmoidoscopy?” A flexible sigmoidoscopy is an endoscopic procedure that allows your doctor to examine the rectum and lower portion of the colon. This does not have to be an intimidating procedure. By understanding the basics, you can feel confident going into your appointment.  

Who needs a flexible sigmoidoscopy? 

Not everyone requires a flexible sigmoidoscopy. This procedure is typically for patients with complaints of rectal bleeding, constipation, diarrhea, and pain in the left lower quadrant or pelvis. If you begin to notice these issues arise, it may be time to schedule an appointment to decide if this is the best course of action for you. 

How do you prepare?

There is very little preparation required for a flexible sigmoidoscopy. It is similar to that of a colonoscopy. According to the Mayo Clinic, this means that you must empty your colon. The remnants in the colon can make it more difficult for a doctor to see what is going on. This might look like a variety of steps such as following a special diet the day before the procedure, taking a laxative, or adjusting medications. 

What happens at a flexible sigmoidoscopy appointment? 

At your flexible sigmoidoscopy appointment, there are a few things you can expect. You will have light sedation and lie on your side on the procedure table. With your legs pulled closer to your abdomen, the doctor will insert a sigmoidoscope into your rectum. This device has a tube and light as your doctor uses it to push air into the colon, expanding it. This may cause slight cramping. This device also contains a video camera that sends images to a device for the doctor to view what is going on in your colon. 

Sometimes, the doctor might also take tissue samples if they feel that is necessary. 

 Is there any downtime?

This is a procedure that leaves basically no downtime. There may be mild discomfort and the feeling of bloating, but this does not typically last long. You should be able to go about your normal diet and activities after the procedure. While slight bleeding in stool is normal, it is important to contact your doctor if this persists. 

Are there risks associated with the procedure? 

As is the case with any procedure, there are risks with flexible sigmoidoscopy. However, they are uncommon. This usually looks like bleeding where the tissue sample was taken from or perforation of the colon. The Cleveland Clinic details that a perforated colon may require surgery to resolve the issue. On the other hand, the bleeding could continue for up to two weeks after the procedure. 

There is no reason to avoid a flexible sigmoidoscopy exam. It is a standard procedure that can help you from having more serious issues down the road. There is very little discomfort, and you are able to go about your day as soon as it is over. Are you dealing with bowel problems that you feel may require flexible sigmoidoscopy? Birmingham Gastroenterology is here to help, and we can schedule you an appointment as soon as possible. Check out our website or give us a call at (205) 271-8000 for more information. 

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