Flexible Sigmoidoscopy (Flex Sig)
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is an examination of the inside of the rectum and sigmoid colon. The large intestine, or colon, is 5-6 feet long. During a sigmoidoscopy, only the last 1-2 feet of the colon is examined. This exam is done to evaluate several conditions. Among these are: rectal bleeding, change in bowel function, diarrhea, rectal or abdominal pain, colon cancer screening, and follow up on x-ray findings. A Flexible Sigmoidoscopy does NOT replace colonoscopy.
A flexible fiberoptic scope is used to perform the examination. This soft instrument can be guided through the curves of the colon. It has a powerful light source attached to it, which allows the doctor to see the tissue clearly. The doctor may obtain a biopsy through the scope, if indicated, without discomfort to you. Results of the biopsy will be available in 7-10 days, if applicable.
The procedure is approximately 5-10 minutes in length. During the exam you will be lying on your left side. As the scope is guided through the sigmoid colon you will feel a sensation of pressure or the urge to defecate. This varies on an individual basis. The discomfort is often described as “gas-like”. The procedure is most often done without any sedation and is tolerated well due to the short exam time. The sigmoid colon must be clean to allow the doctor to clearly visualize the colon.