A sigmoidoscopy is a diagnostic test to check the lower part of your colon or large intestine (the sigmoid colon). This part of your colon is close to your rectum and anus.
A sigmoidoscopy can help find out why you have:
A sigmoidoscopy may also be used to take a tissue sample or biopsy. And it can be used to remove polyps or swollen veins in your rectum and anus (hemorrhoids). It is also a screening test for colorectal cancer.
A sigmoidoscopy is done using a thin, flexible tube (a sigmoidoscope). The tube has a tiny light and camera. The tube is put into your anus and moved slowly through your rectum into the lower part of your colon. The tube will blow air into your colon. This will make it swell up a bit so it is easier to see.
A sigmoidoscopy may be used to see or diagnose certain things in your lower colon such as:
It can also be used to find the cause of recent changes in:
A sigmoidoscopy is one type of test used to screen for colorectal cancer. Health experts recommend both men and women follow a colorectal cancer screening schedule starting at age 50. Talk with your healthcare provider about a screening schedule that is best for you. Many choices are available to screen for colon cancer.
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend a sigmoidoscopy. If a sigmoidoscopy shows polyps, then a colonoscopy may be recommended as the next step to see the remainder of the colon.
Problems that may happen with a sigmoidoscopy include:
Some things can interfere with a sigmoidoscopy. These include:
You may have other risks that are unique to you. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
You may have a sigmoidoscopy as an outpatient or as part of your stay in a hospital. The way the test is done may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider's practices.
Generally, a sigmoidoscopy follows this process:
You should lie on your side or back for a few minutes before getting up from the table. Move slowly when you stand up. This will help you feel less dizzy from having your head down during the test.
You may go back to your normal diet and activities, unless you have other instructions.
If a biopsy or polyp removal was done during the test, you may see a small amount of blood in your bowel movement. This bleeding should stop within a day or so.
You may pass a lot of gas (be very flatulent) and have gas pains after the test. This is normal. Walking and moving around may help to ease any mild pain.
Call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions, depending on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know: