Sigmoidoscopy is a procedure used to see inside the sigmoid colon and rectum. The sigmoid colon is the area of the large intestine nearest to the rectum.
During the test:
Sigmoidoscopy using a rigid scope may be done to treat problems of the anus or rectum.
Your health care provider will tell you how to prepare for the exam. You will use an enema to empty your bowels. This is usually done 1 hour before the sigmoidoscopy. Often, a second enema may be recommended. Or, your provider may recommend a liquid laxative the night before.
On the morning of the procedure, you may be asked to fast with the exception of certain medicines. Be sure to discuss this with your provider well in advance. Sometimes, you are asked to follow a clear liquid diet the day before, and sometimes a regular diet is allowed. Again, discuss this with your provider well in advance of your test date.
During the exam you may feel:
After the test, your body will pass the air that was put into your colon.
Children may be given medicine to make them sleep lightly (sedated) for this procedure.
Your provider may recommend this test to look for the cause of:
This test can also be used to:
A normal test result will show no problems with the color, texture, and size of the lining of the sigmoid colon, rectal mucosa, rectum, and anus.
Abnormal results can indicate:
There is a slight risk of bowel perforation (tearing a hole) and bleeding at the biopsy sites. The overall risk is very small.
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Internal review and update on 07/10/2019 by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.