Flexible sigmoidoscopy is an in-office procedure that is used to examine the lower large intestine. This test may be used to find the cause for lower GI bleeding, diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain. The test is limited due to the length of the scope and the lack of sedation, and as such does not replace a colonoscopy in that greater than two thirds of the colon will not be seen during this exam.
The patient is asked to prepare for this exam with a mild laxative the evening before and an enema on the morning of the exam. During the procedure, the patient lies on his left side for while the scope is advanced into the colon, WITHOUT SEDATION. There may be some discomfort due to air insufflation.
Results of this exam are usually available immediately unless a biopsy has to be taken for examination. This is a diagnostic test, and therapeutic interventions (i.e. polypectomy) are not performed during this examination.