How do I Prepare for a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?
You will have to empty your colon before a flexible sigmoidoscopy, as any residue in your colon could obscure the view of both it and your rectum during the exam. Your doctor might ask you to do some or all of the following:
- Your doctor may put you on a special diet before the exam, instructing you not to eat anything the day before. Your beverage choices may also be limited to plain water, broth, carbonated beverages, and tea and coffee without any milk or creamer. Your doctor might also instruct you to avoid consuming anything after midnight on the night before the exam.
- Your doctor might ask you to adjust your medications or stop taking them temporarily to avoid complications with flexible sigmoidoscopy. This is very likely if you take medicines for diabetes.
- Your doctor might instruct you to take a laxative the night before the exam.
- You will have to use an over-the-counter enema kit a few hours before the exam to clean out your colon. In some cases, you may have to use two enemas.
What Happens During a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?
During a flexible sigmoidoscopy, you will remain awake and lie down on your left side on the exam table. Usually, no sedation or pain medicine is necessary during the exam. Your doctor will insert a sigmoidoscope through your rectum, into your anus, and your large intestine. The doctor will then place air into your colon, which may cause some cramping, but will improve visibility for the small camera at the tip of the sigmoidoscope so that they can examine the inside of your colon. Instruments can also be inserted through the scope to take tissue samples. The entire process takes about 10-20 minutes. Your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy if a polyp is found during the exam.