Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

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What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is an endoscopic procedure that allows us to see inside the lower 18 inches or so of the large intestine. A small camera mounted on the scope transmits a video image from inside the colon to a computer screen, allowing careful examination of the tissues lining the sigmoid colon and rectum. The rectum is about six inches long and connects the sigmoid colon to the anus. Muscles and nerves in the rectum and anus control bowel movements.

How is flexible sigmoidoscopy different from colonoscopy?

Compared to a colonoscopy, which evaluates the health of the entire colon, flexible sigmoidoscopy is a more limited examination, taking less time and less preparation. It is useful for evaluating minor anal and rectal symptoms, such as hemorrhoidal bleeding. Like colonoscopy, you typically receive anesthesia, so the procedure is pain free.

Preparing for a flexible sigmoidoscopy

To prepare for a flexible sigmoidoscopy, you will typically take an oral laxative such as citrate of magnesia, and one or more enemas, administered an hour or two before the procedure. This cleansing routine removes feces from the lower bowel, allowing us to inspect the lining. You typically will take a liquid diet for 6-12 hours before the procedure.

Biopsy and removal of colon polyps

Your doctor can perform a variety of procedures during sigmoidoscopy, including biopsy of abnormal tissues, cauterization of bleeding sites, or removal of polyps. Most sigmoidoscopies take 5-10 minutes.

What happens after the sigmoidoscopy?

After sigmoidoscopy, you will awaken quickly in the recovery room, and generally will experience a little gassiness, but no pain. We will give you a snack, and your physician will discuss the findings. You will leave with an escort a half hour or so after the procedure is completed, and should feel fine the remainder of the day. You may not drive an automobile until the next day.

Our Endoscopy Centers

The Endoscopy Center of New York and Carnegie Hill Endoscopy are 12,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facilities located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. NYGA physicians founded, direct, and perform procedures at these centers. We operate these facilities jointly with the Mount Sinai Hospital.

The centers have multiple large, fully equipped procedure rooms, a well-appointed, comfortable waiting room, a private registration area, and spacious pre-assessment and recovery areas. The centers have hosted more than 100,000 endoscopic procedures.

An individual anesthesiologist is dedicated to each patient for the duration of his or her procedure. We employ state-of-the art vital signs monitoring throughout. This ensures comfort and safety.

Typically, your health insurance will cover all facility charges, anesthesia services, and pathology services related to your procedure.

By: New York Gastroenteroloy

Reviewed by: Peter Legnani, MD

Published: Dec 10th, 2020

Last Reviewed: Mar 1st, 2022

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