A sigmoidoscopy is a procedure to diagnose trouble with the lower portion of your colon, or large intestine. It is similar to other procedures, such as an anoscopy, which looks at the anal canal, and a proctoscopy, which looks at the rectum. It is also similar to a colonoscopy, but not as extensive, since it does not look at the upper portion of the colon.
The doctor uses a sigmoidoscope, which is a long, flexible tube with a light at the end. Before the test, you will need to take laxatives to empty stools out of your colon and rectum.
It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for preparation, since you cannot have the test if you have a stool in the colon or rectum. Drink clear liquids for 12 to 24 hours before the test, depending on your doctor’s instructions. You can have broth, tea, coffee without cream, diet soda, and water. Administer the first prescribed enema before going to bed, and the second one before coming in for your appointment.
You may be given a sedative. Then you will lie on your left side on an examining table. The doctor will guide a sigmoidoscope into your colon and look at your colon and rectum. The physician might remove polyps or tissue that has inflammation, and send it to a laboratory for further analysis.
The test is short, and takes only 15 to 20 minutes. You might feel pressure on your stomach. Complications of a sigmoidoscopy are rare, and can include bleeding. Cramping can also occur after the test.
A sigmoidoscopy can have a normal or abnormal result. The result is normal if the physician does not see any signs of inflammation or abnormal pouches, growths, or bleeding in the colon. The lining of the colon is pink and smooth.
An abnormal result can be the result of the following conditions.
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