If i need to have a sigmoidoscopy, what should i expect?

August 8, 2011

The actual sigmoidoscope is between 60 and 70 cm long. It is a flexible tube, especially the first few inches where the light is located. Within the scope there are channels for air to be put into the patient to open up the colon. There is a suction channel to pull out extra fluid and small bits of stool. It has the ability to remove a biopsy from the lining of the colon (a small piece of tissue usually is removed). The colon is a soft tube that when empty of stool after laxatives and enemas, collapses and is very flat. In order to visualize the lining of the colon, the person doing the examination usually has to put in some air to open this area up so he/she can see the mucosa. At the beginning of the examination, the scope is inserted into the patient. The main examination of the colon occurs as the scope is withdrawn from the patient and air can be removed at the same time. The test takes about 15 minutes and patients tolerate the test very well. One risk of the procedure is the gassy feeling the patient may feel from the air. There is a small risk of bleeding if a biopsy is taken and there is a very miniscule risk of perforation if a biopsy is removed. The test overall is very well tolerated, especially in the hands of experienced endoscopists. This test is done every 5 years, in association with three stool cards every year.

Category: Colorectal Cancer