Skip to Content

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy


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. A sigmoidoscope will be inserted 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.

Abdominal Organs


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Anesthesia may be given to help you relax and feel more comfortable during the procedure.

During your procedure:

  • You will be asked to lie on your left side and raise one or both knees toward your chest. Your healthcare provider will examine your anus and use a finger to check your rectum. Your provider may feel for your prostate if you are a man. If your bowel is not empty, your healthcare provider may give you another enema.
  • The sigmoidoscope will be gently inserted into your rectum and sigmoid colon. Your healthcare provider will put water or air into the tube to help clean or expand your colon. The passage of the tube and air may cause pressure and a little discomfort. Your healthcare provider may take tissue samples from the walls of the bowel and send them to the lab for tests. He or she will also remove bowel movement that may be blocking your bowel.

After your procedure:

You may have gas or bloating because of air that is still in your colon. Medicines may be given to relieve pain or to make it easier to have a bowel movement. You may be allowed to go home when your healthcare provider sees you are okay.


You may bleed or have pain as the scope is inserted. Your heartbeat may slow and your blood pressure may go so low that you 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.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.