What Happens During My Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

When you arrive for your procedure, a nurse or other health professional will help you prepare for the procedure.

  • A health professional will review and explain the potential benefits, potential risks, and alternatives to a flexible sigmoidoscopy and ask for your informed consent to perform the procedure.

  • Depending on your doctor’s recommendation, you may or may not be given a sedating medication before a flexible sigmoidoscopy. If you do receive a sedating medication, you may feel sleepy during the procedure.

  • Before the procedure begins, you will be asked to change into a gown. The procedure is performed with you lying on your left side on the procedure table. Throughout the procedure, your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing will be closely monitored.

  • During the procedure, the doctor will insert the narrow tube, or scope, through the anus and into the rectum and lower part of the large intestine, or sigmoid colon, and then slowly withdraw the scope. Upon withdrawal of the scope, the doctor will carefully inspect the colon and rectum to look for any polyps or other abnormalities. If polyps are found, they will be removed during the procedure. If other abnormal tissue is seen, a biopsy may be taken.

  • Polyps and biopsy samples are then sent to another doctor, called a pathologist, to examine the samples under a microscope.

  • Please note that with this type of procedure, only the rectum and lower colon are examined. Potential polyps or other abnormal tissue present in the rest of the colon will not be detected by this test.

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