What you should know
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure to look inside your rectum and sigmoid colon. The sigmoid colon is the lower part of your intestines, closest to your rectum. Caregivers insert a sigmoidoscope into your rectum. This is a soft, bendable tube with a light and tiny camera on the end. Pictures of your colon appear on a monitor during the procedure. A flexible sigmoidoscopy may help diagnose colon diseases, inflammation, polyps (growths), or infections.
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- You may bleed or have pain as the scope is inserted. Your heartbeat may slow down and your blood pressure may decrease. This can cause you to sweat and faint. The scope may puncture (make a hole) or perforate (tear) your colon. This may cause bowel movement to leak out of the colon and into your abdomen.
- Without this procedure, your signs and symptoms may get worse. You may have a condition that is not diagnosed or treated properly. You may have problems digesting food or having a bowel movement.
Before your procedure:
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
- Tell your caregiver if you have had a sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, or colonoscopy before and when it was done.
- You may need blood, urine, or bowel movement tests. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
- Tell your caregiver if you are pregnant or have other medical conditions, such as severe bowel inflammation or kidney problems. Certain medicines used to empty your colon may not be good for you.
- Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
The night before your procedure:
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
The day of your procedure:
- Your bowel needs to be empty before your procedure. This is so caregivers can see the inside of your colon more clearly. You may need a laxative. This is a pill that will help empty your bowel. You may also need an enema. This is a liquid inserted into your rectum to flush out your bowel.
- Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine, such as diabetic or heart pills, on the day of your procedure. If you need to take medicines, take them with few small sips of water.
- Caregivers may insert an IV into your vein. You may be given liquids or medicine through the IV.
- An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
What will happen:
- You will be taken to the endoscopy room and moved onto a bed or table. You will be given medicine to help you relax. You will be asked to lie on your left side and raise one or both knees toward your chest. Your caregiver will examine your anus and use a finger to check your rectum. He may feel for your prostate if you are a man. If your bowel is not empty, your caregiver may give you another enema.
- The sigmoidoscope will be lubricated and gently inserted into your rectum and sigmoid colon. Your caregiver will put water or air into the tube to help clean or expand your colon. The passage of the tube and air may cause a feeling of pressure and a little discomfort. Your caregiver may take tissue samples from the walls of the bowel and send them to the lab for tests. He will also remove bowel movement that may be blocking your bowel. Your caregiver will gently remove the scope when the procedure is finished.
After your procedure:
You may pass gas because of air that is still in your colon. You will be allowed to go home when your caregiver says it is okay. If your caregiver wants you to stay in the hospital, you will be taken back to your hospital room.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot make it to your appointment on time.
- You have a fever.
- You have questions or concerns about your procedure.
Seek Care Immediately if
- You have blood in your bowel movement.
- You are not able to have a bowel movement.
- Your abdomen becomes tender and hard.
- Your signs and symptoms get worse.
- Your vomit has blood or bile (yellow or green fluid) in it.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.