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Rigid Sigmoidoscopy


A rigid 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. Healthcare providers insert a sigmoidoscope into your rectum. This is a firm tube with a light and tiny camera on the end. Pictures of your colon appear on a monitor during the procedure. A rigid sigmoidoscopy may help diagnose colon diseases, inflammation, polyps (growths), or infections.


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: This medicine is given to make you comfortable. You may not feel discomfort, pressure, or pain. An adult will need to drive you home and should stay with you for 24 hours. Ask your healthcare provider if you can drive or use machinery within 24 hours. Also ask if and when you can drink alcohol or use over-the-counter medicine. You may not want to make important decisions until 24 hours have passed.
  • Monitoring:
    • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.
    • A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine.
    • Vital signs: Healthcare providers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. Vital signs give information about your current health.

During your procedure:

  • 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 healthcare provider 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 healthcare provider may give you another enema.
  • The sigmoidoscope will be lubricated and 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 a feeling of 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 will also remove bowel movement that may be blocking your bowel. Your healthcare provider 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 healthcare provider says it is okay. If your healthcare provider wants you to stay in the hospital, you will be taken back to your hospital room. You may need any of the following:

  • Medicines:
    • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
    • Bowel movement softeners: This medicine makes it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to prevent constipation.
  • Vital signs: Healthcare providers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. Vital signs give information about your current health.


  • 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.


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.

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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.

Further information

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