Victorian Day Procedure Centre
Part of Ramsay Health Care

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure to look at the inside of the left side or lower part of the colon (large bowel) and rectum using a flexible camera (endoscope).

What is the difference between a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy and a Colonoscopy?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy investigates less of the large bowel than a colonoscopy, which explores the entire large bowel. Your doctor will discuss which test is best for you.

Unlike a Colonoscopy you will not be required to drink a bowel preparing liquid, you will instead be given a Fleet enema upon admission in order to clear the lower part of the colon so the doctor may have a clear view of the area.

What does the procedure involve?

Under light sedation, a flexible sigmoidoscopy typically takes between 10 - 20 minutes.

Most people don’t remember the test.

During this time your heart, blood pressure and breathing will be carefully monitored.

The doctor will place a flexible camera into the back passage.

The doctor will look for irregularities, such as inflammation or polyps, which may be the cause of any symptoms. The doctor will perform biopsies and take photographs of this area in order to make a diagnosis.

Sometimes a polyp is the cause of the problem and the doctor can remove this during the procedure.

What happens after the procedure?

You will fully recover from the light sedation approximately one to two hours after the procedure. A nurse will monitor you throughout your recovery.

Your doctor will inform you of anything that was found during the procedure and discuss any treatment or follow-up if required.

Your nurse will give you instructions to take home to tell you what to do if you experience any problems post procedure.

A friend or family member will accompany you home to ensure your safety.

You will be able to conduct normal daily activities the following day.

What are the risks?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a very safe procedure. Rarely, complications of a flexible sigmoidoscopy exam may include:

  • Bleeding from the site where a tissue sample (biopsy) was taken.
  • A tear in the colon or rectum wall.
  • Reactions to the anaesthetic used.