When your doctor wants to explore possible causes of chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, or rectal bleeding or screen for colon cancer, he may suggest a flexible sigmoidoscopy. This test is used to examine the lower part of the large intestine and the rectum. The procedure is done using a thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera attached that allows the doctor to view the inside of these areas. If necessary, tissue samples can be removed through the scope. This procedure doesn’t give the doctor a view of the complete colon the way a colonoscopy does.
Prior to performing a flexible sigmoidoscopy, your colon needs to be emptied so that the doctor has a clear view during the exam. That means:
– No solid food the day before the exam.
– The day before the exam, drinks limited to clear liquids, including water, tea, coffee (no cream), broth etc. (No red liquids)
– Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the exam
– Take a laxative the night prior. (Your doctor will tell you what to take)
– Ask your doctor about the daily medications you take
In most cases the procedure takes just 15 minutes or a bit more to complete. After the exam, you may have mild abdominal discomfort, feel bloated or pass gas to clear the air in your colon.