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Anoscopy is a method to look at the:

  • Anus
  • Anal canal
  • Lower rectum

How is the Test Performed?

The procedure is usually done in a doctor's office.

A digital rectal exam is done first. Then, a lubricated instrument called an anoscope is placed a few inches into the rectum. You will feel some discomfort when this is done.

The anoscope has a light on the end, so your health care provider can see the entire area. A sample for biopsy can be taken, if needed.

Preparation for the Test

You may receive a laxative, enema, or other preparation before the procedure so that you can completely empty your bowel. You should empty your bladder before the procedure.

How the Test will Feel

There will be some discomfort during the procedure. You may feel the need to have a bowel movement. You may feel a pinch when a biopsy is taken.

You can usually return to normal activities after the procedure.

Why is the Test Performed?

This test may be used to determine whether you have:

Normal Results for Anoscopy

The anal canal appears normal in size, color, and tone. There is no sign of:

  • Bleeding
  • Polyps
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Other abnormal tissue

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may include:

  • Abscess
  • Fissures
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Polyps (non-cancerous or cancerous)
  • Tumors

Anoscopy Risks

There are few risks. If a biopsy is needed, there is a slight risk of bleeding and mild pain.


Reynolds PL, Wilkins T. Anoscopy. In: Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC, eds. Pfenninger & Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap 98.

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Review Date: 10/24/2014
Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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