This page has been prepared to help you understand the procedure. It includes answers to questions patients ask most frequently. Please read it carefully. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to discuss them with the endoscopy nurse or your physician before the examination begins.
You may also view the patient preparation information: Patient Procedure Instructions
Understanding Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that enables your physician to examine the lining of the rectum and a portion of the colon (large bowel) by inserting a flexible tube that is about the thickness of your finger into the anus and advancing it slowly into the rectum and lower part of the colon.
If the doctor sees an area that needs evaluation in greater detail, a biopsy (sample of the colon lining) may be obtained and submitted to a laboratory for greater analysis. If polyps (growths from the lining of the colon which vary in size) are found, they can be biopsied, but usually are not removed at the time of the sigmoidoscopy. Polyps area of varying types; certain benign polyps, known as "adenomas," are potentially precancerous. Certain other polyps ("hyperplastic" by biopsy analysis) may not require removal. Your doctor will likely request that you have a colonoscopy (a complete examination of the colon) to remove any large polyps found, or any small polyp that is adenomatous after biopsy analysis.