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Sigmoidoscopy (cont.)


During the Sigmoidoscopy Procedure

  • The doctor will have you lie down on your left side with your knees bent and pulled up slightly toward your head.
  • The doctor will examine your rectum first with a finger lubricated with special jelly. The tip of the scope is then lubricated with the same jelly and slowly inserted into your rectum.
  • The doctor will slowly advance the tube through your lower intestine. In order to help the doctor see, a small amount of air and water may be placed in the intestine through the end of the scope. If the doctor encounters a suspicious area of intestine, he or she may remove a small piece of the tissue for analysis. This is done with the same scope and is known as a biopsy.
  • The doctor will end the procedure and tell you the outcome of your study.

After the Sigmoidoscopy Procedure

After the procedure, you may experience mild abdominal cramping and gas as a result of the air that was placed in your intestine. Some people may have slight rectal bleeding due to minor irritation and trauma from the insertion of the sigmoidoscope.

When to Seek Medical Care for Sigmoidoscopy Complications

You should notify the doctor if you experience:

Your doctor may instruct you to go to the hospital's emergency department if you experience severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or heavy bleeding after a sigmoidoscopy.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Screening for colorectal cancer: Strategies in patients at average risk"

Last Reviewed 11/20/2017
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