Flexible Sigmoidoscopy With GastroMed Connect

What exactly is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is an endoscopic diagnostic technique during which a thin, long, flexible tube, or “scope,” is inserted into the rectum and then progressed throughout the lower third of the colon. For this reason, this exam has some limitations in that not all of the colon will be viewed. The tube has a camera and a light at its end which enables the specialist to analyze the lining of the colon. A sigmoidoscopy may be used to diagnose the origin of:

  • Abnormal x-ray outcomes
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Or as a screening tool for polyps and colon cancer.

Our GI providers commonly conduct flexible sigmoidoscopies for Kyle, TX patients. In the event that you are suffering from any bothersome symptoms related to your digestive tract like the above listed, consult with GastroMed Connect to receive help in deciding if a flexible sigmoidoscopy might benefit you.

What should I expect the day before my flexible sigmoidoscopy?

You will be provided with instructions from your physician in regard to the required bowel prep to ready you for the exam. The majority of individuals will be on clear liquids for the entirety of the day, the day prior to the procedure. There are many different options for laxatives to prepare the colon. It is very important to follow the directions provided to you by your GastroMed Connect specialist. There will also be additional directions pertaining to any medicine you are currently taking. In most cases, any medications may be taken as usual. However, in some cases, specifically in patients on blood thinners (i.e. Plavix®, Coumadin®, warfarin, aspirin, anti-inflammatories) and in those with diabetes, individual instructions will be provided. You will be instructed to take nothing by mouth after midnight with an exception for some medications.

What should I expect on the day of my flexible sigmoidoscopy?

You will be instructed to present at the endoscopy center 1 to 1.5 hours prior to your flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure. This is to allow time to fill out all forms and prepare for the exam. You will be instructed to change into a medical gown. In most cases, no IV will be started since sedation is not needed for this procedure. You could be hooked up to equipment that will allow the provider and staff to watch your heart rate, blood pressure, pulse, electrocardiogram, breathing, and oxygen level throughout and following the exam.

Once in the exam room, you’ll be directed to lie on your left on the stretcher. The physician will carry out an exam of your rectum. The sigmoidoscope will then be carefully inserted just inside the rectum. The scope will be carefully advanced throughout the sigmoid colon. A small amount of air is inserted by way of the tube into the colon to help the physician see. Any fluid still in the colon following the preparation can be washed and suctioned out via the scope. Pending on the results of the test, a number of complications can be taken care of at the time of the exam including biopsies, removal of polyps, and control of bleeding. At the end of the exam, all possible remaining fluid and air are suctioned out of the colon via the scope. Depending on the results, the procedure takes approximately 5 – 15 minutes to complete.

Because sedation is not generally needed, once the procedure is complete the patient is allowed to put their clothes back on and is released from the endoscopy center. Most individuals are able to drink and eat normally after their release from the endoscopy unit, however, unique guidelines in regard to eating, medication, and activities will be provided to the patient in advance of discharge. After the exam, the doctor and/or nurse will go over the results of the exam with you. The patient will also be sent home with a typed report. The patient will be informed of any results from biopsies within one week.

What are the risks of a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Typically, sigmoidoscopy is an extremely safe test. In all, complications are experienced by less than 1% of patients. Typically, complications are not serious, however, if a complication occurs, it might necessitate surgery and/or hospitalization. Before the procedure, a consent form will be discussed with the patient by the nursing staff. In the case that any questions or concerns arise, these may be brought up to and explained by your physician before the procedure.

Bleeding can occur with the removal of polyps and biopsies. Again, significant bleeding which might involve a blood transfusion or hospitalization is extremely unusual. Still, bleeding has been known to happen during the exam or up to two weeks post-test in the event that a polyp is excised.

Perforation or puncture of the large intestine can take place. This may be realized during the procedure, or it may not be apparent until later in the day. In most cases, a puncture will necessitate surgery and hospitalization. This is an uncommon complication, even in the event that polyps are extracted. It is very important that you reach out to the physician’s office urgently if symptoms arise after the procedure like worsening abdominal pain, fever, or bleeding.

Just like any other procedure, a sigmoidoscopy is not perfect. There is a small, recognized risk that abnormalities including but not limited to cancer and polyps can be missed at the time of the procedure. It is imperative to remain vigilant and to maintain check-ups with your physicians as instructed and make them aware of any new or recurring symptoms. Please discuss it with your GastroMed Connect doctor if you have any questions or concerns.