What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?
- A flexible sigmoidoscopy examines the inside of your lower bowel with a flexible sigmoidoscope (a flexible tube with a small camera at the end)
- The instrument is passed carefully through your back passage (anus).
- Some air is inflated into the bowel enabling the person performing the procedure (the endoscopist) to look directly at its lining.
- The examination is carried out when you are fully awake.
- It will help discover the cause of your symptoms.
- Banding of haemorrhoids may be offered if appropriate.
Although there are alternatives your doctor has decided that this is the best test for you.
One alternative is a barium enema x-ray examination. It is not as informative and has the added disadvantage that tissue samples cannot be taken.
If you want further information, please discuss this with your GP or the doctor who has referred you for this test.
What are the risks of having a flexible sigmoidoscopy?
A flexible sigmoidoscopy carries a small risk of complications but the main risks are:
- Perforation or tear of the lining of the bowel wall (1in every 15,000). An operation is nearly always required to repair the hole. The risk of perforation is higher with polyp removal.
- Bleeding may occur at the biopsy site or polyp removal (1in every 100-200). This may stop on its own but may require further treatment and an operation may be required.
What happens if I decide not to have a flexible sigmoidoscopy?
- The symptoms may persist, and it may be hard to reach a diagnosis.