If you are experiencing unexplained symptoms such as rectal bleeding, changes in bowel activity, abdominal pain or unusual weight loss, your gastroenterologist may recommend that you undergo a flexible sigmoidoscopy to determine the cause or causes. This common procedure is also a way that physicians can screen for colon and rectal cancer.

The flexible sigmoidoscope is a small tube about 60 cm long and about as wide as a little finger. With a tiny light and camera on the end, it is inserted into the rectum to help your physician visualize the inner lining of rectum and the lower 20 inches of the colon (also called the sigmoid colon). The sigmoid colon and rectum are part of the large intestine.

You will receive mild sedation to help you relax during the procedure.

If abnormalities are found during a sigmoidoscopy, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy to examine the remainder of the colon. A colonoscopy provides a full view of the entire colon and requires more extensive preparation and sedation.

Time to prepare

The flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure only takes about 10-20 minutes and is typically performed in a procedure room in your doctor’s office or in a hospital setting. What’s most important is that you follow specific instructions for preparation so your gastroenterologist can get a proper view.

Your colon should be clear before the procedure starts. Specifics for cleaning out the bowel will be given to you by your GI physician before the procedure. This may include a special diet and an enema.

You should also make arrangements for someone to drive you home after the procedure.

Ask questions

Most importantly, ask your gastroenterologist about anything that concerns you to allow for a relaxing and positive experience.

If you’re experiencing the symptoms above, visit a gastroenterologist, such as Dr. Suman Kaur at Digestive Disease Associates in Hinsdale, IL, for a proper diagnosis.

For appointments, call 630-325-4255.

Note: This information shouldn’t take the place of a physician’s care. Please see your physician or Dr. Suman Kaur with any questions or concerns.