What is Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure used to see inside the sigmoid colon and rectum. Flexible sigmoidoscopy can detect inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers. The procedure is sused to look for early signs of cancer and help doctors diagnose unexplained changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, bleeding from the anus, and weight loss.
How to Prepare for a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
To prepare for a flexible sigmoidoscopy, one or more enemas are performed about 2 hours before the procedure to remove all solids from the sigmoid colon. An enema is performed by flushing water, laxative, or sometimes a mild soap solution in to the anus using a special wash bottle. In some cases, the entire gastrointestinal tract must be emptied by following a clear liquid diet for 1 to 3 days before the procedure – similar to the preparation for colonoscopy. Patients should not drink beverages containing red or purple dye.
Acceptable liquids include:
- fat-free bouillon or broth
- strained fruit juice
- plain coffee
- plain tea
- sports drinks, such as Gatorade
A laxative may also be required the night before a flexible sigmoidoscopy. A laxative is medicine that loosens stool and increases bowel movements. Laxatives are usually swallowed in pill form or as a powder dissolved in water.
Patients should inform their doctor of all medical conditions and any medications, vitamins, or supplements taken regularly, including:
- arthritis medications
- blood thinners
- diabetes medications
- vitamins that contain iron