Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Why do I need this procedure?

Your physician has recommended this procedure to examine your sigmoid colon. You may have found blood in your stool or have a family member with colon cancer.

How is this procedure performed?

The procedure is performed with you lying on your left side. Your physician will start with a rectal exam and then insert the scope.

Sedative medication is usually not given for this exam. However if you prefer to have sedative type medication, discuss it with your physician.

What Preparation is needed for a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy? 


You may eat your regular diet the day before your exam.

Nothing to eat after midnight the night before your procedure.

On the morning of the procedure, you may have black coffee, tea and water.

Do not eat or drink anything else.


If you take heart, blood pressure or respiratory medications, take them one hour before your appointment with a small amount of water.

Please notify your physician if you are taking blood thinners such as Coumadin, Plavix or aspirin regularly.

Please notify the staff at The Endoscopy Center when you arrive if you are taking blood thinning type of medication and the date of your last dose.

Special instructions may be necessary.

What to bring

Insurance card

A list of the drugs you are currently taking,

A list of medication allergies or allergies to adhesive tape or latex.

Name (if any) of the physician that you would like to receive copies of the report.

What to wear?

Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes. Do not wear heavy or bulky sweaters. Avoid girdles, pantyhose, or tight-fitting garments.

Bring socks to keep your feet warm.

You will be required to change into a hospital gown for your procedure. Prior to the procedure you will be asked to remove any dentures or eye glasses.

Contact lenses will not need to be removed.

Leave all jewelry and valuables at home.


Before and after the procedure, your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and blood oxygen will be measured. If you have diabetes, your blood sugar may be monitored.


If you do not receive sedation you may drive yourself home from this procedure.

If you receive sedative type drugs, you will not be able to drive yourself home and will need to have someone drive you home.

You will not be able to drive for 12 hours after your procedure.

You should plan on being at The Endoscopy Center approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

The actual procedure time can take as little as 15-20 minutes.

Discuss with your physician prior to the procedure about the need for sedation for this procedure.

If you request sedation, you must have a designated transportation person

Your Permission

If you have any questions or concerns about this exam, do not hesitate to ask your physician about them. 
To signify that you completely understand what this exam involves and that you are giving permission for the doctor to perform this exam, you will be asked to sign a written consent form before the exam begins.

Your physician will discuss the exam with you and answer any questions.

How will I feel after the procedure?

While you will soon be resuming your normal activities, there are several directions and precautions that you should be aware of to insure your safety. 

  Since you have been fasting and your lower intestinal tract has been examined, it is wise to slowly resume your eating. A light snack as your first food is advisable. 

  During the procedure, the doctor uses air to inflate the rectum and sigmoid colon to help him visualize this organ. While he removes as much as possible, some air may remain and be passed normally. You may feel slightly bloated and gaseous. This is normal and will go away within a few hours. 

  Rarely, complications can occur. While every caution is taken to prevent any problems, complications can occur and sometimes these may not become evident for several hours. 

  If, in the next 24 hours you experience any of the following, contact your physician immediately. If your physician is unavailable, have someone drive you to the Emergency Department. 

  Passage of a large amount of blood or black, coffee ground material.

(Spotty bleeding may be noted for 2-3 days after the procedure, especially if biopsies or polyps were taken. This is normal).

  Severe or new onset of abdominal pain. 

  Severe dizziness or fainting. 

  Sweating, severe nausea or high fever.

These symptoms may indicate a complication of the procedure.

Your physician will want to discuss these symptoms with you.

How often should I have a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Your physician may recommend that you have a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy every 3-5 years as recommended by the American Cancer Society.

You should discuss the frequency of this exam with your physician.