Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a tube, the size of a finger, used to examine the lining of the rectum and the left side of the large bowel. The flexible tube has a light and camera at the end to allow the bowel lining to be viewed clearly. Air is usually introduced into the bowel during the examination.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is used as a diagnostic test for complaints such as passing blood from the back passage and lower abdominal pains, especially in the left lower abdomen.

The bowel needs to be clear of all faecal matter and you will be given a gentle phosphate enema when you arrive for the procedure. You may have sips of water up to two hours before.

What happens during flexible sigmoidoscopy?

The procedure is performed as a day case and can be done either with or without sedation. You will be asked to lie on your left side with your knees drawn up towards your chest. It takes about ten minutes to complete and you may feel a little wind or discomfort as the flexible sigmoidoscope is passed through the left side of the large bowel. This discomfort passes off soon after the procedure.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy can be used to collect tissue samples and to remove colonic polyps, if detected.

What happens after flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Following the procedure you will return to the recovery room for close monitoring, especially if you have had a sedative. You will then go back to your room, where you will be given instructions about eating and drinking and allowed to rest before discharge.

Mr Agwunobi will discuss your test results with you and may arrange a follow up appointment. We will also inform your GP or referring specialist and provide management recommendations. If a biopsy was taken it may take up to seven days for the results to come back, at which point you will be notified.

What happens after flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Following the procedure you will return to the recovery room for close monitoring, especially if you have had a sedative. You will then go back to your room, where you will be given instructions about eating and drinking and allowed to rest before discharge.

Mr Agwunobi will discuss your test results with you and may arrange a follow up appointment. We will also inform your GP or referring specialist and provide management recommendations. If a biopsy was taken it may take up to seven days for the results to come back, at which point you will be notified.

Are there any complications associated with flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Complications following flexible sigmoidoscopy are extremely rare.

Bleeding from the back passage may occur from the site of a biopsy, or the flexible sigmoidoscope may cause a minor tear in the bowel. However, this is very uncommon.

Please ensure you consult a healthcare professional before making decisions about your health.