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Treatment Room

It is performed using an instrument called a flexible sigmoidoscope or its longer counterpart, the colonoscope. This is a long, thin, flexible tube with a light and a camera at one end. The camera sends images of the inside of your body directly to a television screen for the endoscopist to review.

During the investigation, the endoscopist may need to take some tissue samples, known as biopsies, from the lining of your large bowel for analysis. This is completely painless. Photographs may also be taken for your medical records.

There are several reasons why this test may be recommended, and your doctor will discuss these with you. Common indications include:

  • A change in your usual bowel habit to constipation or diarrhoea
  • Bleeding from the back passage
  • A review of a known bowel condition (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease, colonic polyps)

The procedure usually takes about 10 minutes, but this can vary depending on how many twists there are in your bowel, and whether any additional procedures are required.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a short test, and most people will remain comfortable without sedative drugs or painkillers. If you are particularly anxious about the test, discuss this with our friendly hospital team.

Gastro Procedure

While you are preparing for your sigmoidoscopy, ensure you maintain a healthy diet, reduce alcohol, and consider stopping smoking.

Try and avoid being too constipated by taking laxatives regularly if needed. This will also help to ensure that your bowel is fully emptied when you take the bowel preparation before the procedure.

Avoid foods that make your bowel symptoms worse.

It is extremely important that the left side of your bowel is completely empty before a flexible sigmoidoscopy to allow adequate inspection of the lining of your colon.

Once your sigmoidoscopy is scheduled, we will send you instructions for how to prepare. This is usually achieved by giving you a bowel cleansing laxative to take at home on the day before your procedure. Sometimes, an enema on the day of the test is all that is required; you will be informed if this is the case.

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