Flexible sigmoidoscopy – Commonly Asked Questions

What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

  • A sigmoidoscopy is a test to examine the lower part of your large bowel (colon) using a flexible camera.
  • Small tissue samples (biopsies) may be taken during the test.
  • Air is inserted during the test which you will need to pass out later.
  • The enemas taken prior to the procedure help ensure that your rectum is free of stool, letting the doctor see as much as possible at the examination.
  • Depending on your preference, you may receive medications (sedation) through an intravenous catheter just before starting the test to keep you comfortable. If you receive sedation, you will not be able to drive or go back to work after your test, and you will need to arrange a ride or take a taxi with someone accompanying you.
  • After your procedure, you will rest in the recovery area for about 30 minutes. You may feel some bloating after the procedure because of air that was introduced during the examination. Please allow about 2 hours for your entire appointment.
  • While these procedures are associated with very low risk when performed by physicians specially trained in this discipline, they may still occur:
    • Drug reaction: this is rare and usually mild. This may present as rash, hives, or itching at the site of the intravenous.
    • Perforation: puncture of the bowel wall is very rare. If it occurs, surgery may be required to repair the perforation.
    • Bleeding: a small risk of significant bleeding may occur after polyp removal. This can occur up to 7 days later. This usually stops without treatment. Rarely, blood transfusions or surgery is required.
    • Sedation: may cause respiratory depression or lowering of blood pressure.

FLEET ENEMA PREPARATION: Go to the pharmacy and purchase TWO (2) Fleet ENEMAS

1. Starting at 11 PM the night before the procedure, do not have anything to eat. You can continue to take clear fluids up until 4 hours before the test (water, apple juice, Gatorade, jello, soup broth, popsicles).

2. On the day of your test, approximately 30 minutes before leaving home, use the two enemas. Read the instructions on the box. It is best to give them in the bathroom, lying on your left side, on the floor if you have room. You may lubricate the tip of the enema with Vaseline or lubricant jelly.

3. Insert the tip carefully, into the anal canal and empty the whole contents of the enema, by squeezing the bottle into the rectum.

4. Hold the enema in as long as possible (usually 5 to 10 minutes), then defecate the contents into the toilet.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the second enema.