The risks of the procedure include damage to the colon by the tube, bleeding, abdominal pain, and infection.
Sigmoidoscopy is well tolerated by the vast majority of people. This procedure is usually done in a doctor's office without the need for any anesthesia or sedation.
- Your doctor may require you to use a strong laxative (called a bowel cleanser) to clear your bowel of fecal contents before sigmoidoscopy. Several medications are available for bowel cleansing, including polyethylene glycol 3350 (GoLYTELY, NuLYTELY), magnesium citrate, (Citroma), and senna (X-Prep). These medications produce diarrhea, which can be uncomfortable, but unless the bowel is empty of stool, the test can be limited and may need to be repeated at a later date. Your doctor may also require a special diet, such as a clear liquid diet, starting 1-2 days before your scheduled sigmoidoscopy.
- Some people also need to use an enema (liquid is forced into the colon through the anus) before bedtime.
- The next day, you may take your normal medications.
- About 1 hour before the procedure is to begin, you will need to have an enema. The clear diet and enema help clear the intestine so your doctor can see well.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/12/2014
Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Thomas Rebbecchi, MD, FAAEM
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