The purpose of a sigmoidoscopy procedure is to permit doctors to view the rectum and the lower region of the large intestine for the evaluation of symptoms such as stomach pain, rectal bleeding and bowel movement problems, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK). This procedure may also be useful for the biopsy of growths or their removal. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is also utilized as a screening tool for colorectal cancer, relates WebMD.
The examination entails looking at the rectum and sigmoid colon, which is the lower 1/3 portion of the colon. The instrument used in the procedure is a flexible sigmoidoscope that has an attached small camera to facilitate viewing the lining of the sigmoid colon.
Before performing a sigmoidoscopy exam, the bowels must be completely clean for proper viewing of the colon. This is an outpatient procedure that does not take more than 30 minutes. Once the sigmoidoscope is introduced into the anus and maneuvered up through the rectum and sigmoid colon areas, doctors can view the lining of these colon sections. If an abnormal growth is found, it may be biopsied. Similarly, polyp removal is possible through this procedure, explains NIDDK.
When used as screening tool for cancer, it is usually recommended for people age 50 and older, reports WebMD. Although complications associated with this procedure may be rare, they can include a colon puncture and rectal bleeding.