How is a flexible sigmoidoscopy performed?


Quick Answer

During a flexible sigmoidoscopy, the patient lies on his left side in a fetal position, and the doctor inserts a sigmoidoscope through his rectum and into his sigmoid colon, according to WebMD. No form of sedation is used, and the duration of the procedure is between 10 and 20 minutes.

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Full Answer

Prior to the procedure, the patient must undergo two enema treatments to clean the rectum and lower part of the colon of excess feces. Each enema treatment lasts five minutes. The treatments eliminate the need to restrict the diet prior to the procedure, explains WebMD.

Following the procedure, minor gas or cramping may occur, notes WebMD. The patient is allowed to return to normal activities almost immediately afterward. The only issue that may complicate the procedure is a rare puncturing of the colon.

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is performed to examine the cause or severity of symptoms such as rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and constipation, says WebMD. The procedure is also used to detect colon cancer in adults over the age of 50. The doctor uses a long, 1/2-inch-thick tube called a sigmoidoscope that has a camera at the end to view the rectum and the sigmoid colon, which is the lowest part of the colon.

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