What is Flexible Sigmoidoscopy and why is it necessary?
Flexible fibersigmoidoscopy is an examination of the rectum and lower bowel. During the test, your physician will inspect the lining of the bowel to look for growths and other abnormalities.
The test is performed with a slim, flexible fiberoptic instrument that is inserted along the curves of the rectum and colon. The fiber optics create the instrument flexibility while allowing excellent visualization.
The test is important both for people who have or do not have symptoms, such as bleeding or change in bowel habits. WHY? Because many cancers and diseases of the colon can be detected with this test, and the earlier the detection, the better the chance for a permanent cure.
How is it done?
Because a clean, empty colon is essential for a successful examination, you will be given two small enemas to clean out the lower bowel. The nurse will instruct you in this procedure.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is an extremely worthwhile and safe procedure that is very well tolerated and is invaluable in the diagnosis of disorders of the lower colon. The decision to perform this procedure was based upon assessment of your particular problem. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to speak to the doctor performing the procedure.
Preparation for Fibersigmoidoscopy
A fibersigmoidoscopy is an examination of the first 25-35 inches of your colon. In order for you to have the best exam possible, the lower portion of the colon must be clean. Please follow these directions in order to achieve this:
Day Before Test
Try to eat lightly today – soup, baked potato and other light foods. Between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., you will need to take 10 ounces of Citrate of Magnesia. You may purchase this at your pharmacy. Chill this or pour it over ice and sip it slowly.
Day of Test
Please keep the meal before your exam light – toast, juice, soup, etc. You will need to take the enema.
If you are on medication for high blood pressure or a heart condition please take your medication on the day of your procedure. Try to take your medication two hours before your scheduled time.
After the enemas, you will be taken to the procedure room, asked to remove your clothing from the waist down and positioned on a table on your left side with your knees flexed.
The examination is done on your left side because this allows for easier insertion of the instrument and causes less discomfort for you. The usual length of time for the examination is from five to ten minutes. Most patients do feel some discomfort in the form of abdominal cramping. This is usually due to the insertion of air to expand the colon for better visualization.
You may feel nervous and apprehensive about the test. This is normal. Our staff realizes this and will do everything possible to help you. It is not the most “pleasant” test you may have had, but it is certainly not the worst.
You may feel the urge to move your bowels. This is normal, but you will not have a bowel movement and should not try to “hold back.”
What happens after the Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?
After you are dressed, you may go to the restroom if necessary. Once you expel the air that was inserted, you should not feel any aftereffects of the procedure.
You will be taken to one of the examination rooms, and the physician will discuss the findings with you and discuss any further steps that need to be considered.
Alternatives to Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
The old method, rigid sigmoidoscopy, is a possible alternative although it is not nearly as effective a test.
Things to remember
During the examination, you will hear many different noises. These noises are caused by the machines that provide the instrument light and by the suction machines.
The more relaxed you are, the easier the examination will be. It is important that you breathe easily and regularly. Try to relax your muscles. Slow, deep breaths assist in relaxation.
The examination is safe and is for your benefit. Your cooperation is needed. In fact, the greater the cooperation, the better the examination.
Are there any complications?
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is safe and is associated with very low risk when performed by physicians who have been specially trained and are experienced in this procedure. Complications can occur but are rare.
One possible complication is perforation in which a rip or tear occurs in the lining of the bowel. This is extremely rare and can usually be managed with intravenous fluid and antibiotics, although surgery is sometimes required.
Bleeding may occur from the site of biopsy.