Sigmoidoscopy enables the physician to look at the inside of the large intestine from the rectum, to approximately one third of the way around the colon. This procedure is used to find the cause of diarrhea, abdominal pain or constipation and early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum. This procedure enables the physician to see bleeding, inflammation, abnormal growths and ulcers. A preparation prior to the procedure is required.
During the procedure, you will lie on your left side on the examination table. The physician will insert a short flexible lighted tube, a sigmoidoscope, into your rectum and guide it about a third of the way around the colon. The images are projected onto to a video screen. The scope also blows air into your colon to inflate the colon and give the physician a clearer view of the area. You may feel some pressure and cramping in your lower abdomen.
If anything unusual is found, like a polyp (a potentially pre-cancerous growth), the physician can remove a piece of it or all of it using tiny instruments passed through the scope. That tissue is then sent to a lab for testing. If there is bleeding, the physician can pass special probes or inject special medicines through the scope to stop the bleeding.
The procedure takes 5 to 10 minutes.
Bleeding and perforation of the colon are possible complications of this procedure however, such complications are uncommon.