What Is the Recovery Time for a Sigmoidoscopy Exam?

The recovery time for a sigmoidoscopy is typically only a few minutes, according to the American Cancer Society. Most patients feel normal immediately after the procedure and are able to continue with their regular activities. Some patients have a small amount of cramping or excessive gas, but these do not usually interfere with walking out of the office, driving home or returning to work.

During a sigmoidoscopy, a doctor observes the inside of the rectum and the lower part of the large intestine with a camera on a flexible tube, states WebMD. The patient prepares for the exam at home by completing two enemas to cleanse the rectum and colon. During the exam, the patient lies on his left side while the doctor inserts the tube through the anus and observes the lining on a monitor. Air is slowly puffed into the colon to keep it open for better observation. The doctor looks for growths, polyps and other irregularities that signal cancer or other health issues. The exam is not painful, but some patients experience discomfort and cramping.

Immediately after the exam, most patients have a mild sensation of retaining gas from the air that has been introduced into the rectum, reports WebMD. This goes away very quickly. When the patient leaves the exam room, he is ready to continue with normal activities, including eating a normal diet and participating in strenuous physical work and exercise.