A Flexible sigmoidoscopy involves the examination using a fibre-optic flexible tube / camera of the rectum and sigmoid colon. This procedure essentially examines the last 60 cm of the large bowel.
If you have symptoms of rectal bleeding, haemorrhoids, diarrhoea, alternating bowel habit (constipation and diarrhoea), weight loss, anaemia, suspected bowel cancer, bloating and abdominal pain you may require this procedure.
What does the procedure involve?
At least 30 to 60 minutes prior to the procedure you will be given a very gentle enema, in some patients two enemas are required, to ensure that the last 60 cm of your large bowel is completely clear of faeces/ stool. This allows clear views of the internal lining of your rectum and sigmoid colon. Sedation is given if requested but it not always absolutely necessary with this procedure.
For the procedure you will lie on your left hand side with your hip and knees bent. The endoscope is passed through your anus with a small amount of air introduced to inflate the bowel so your surgeon can accurately visualise your rectum and sigmoid colon. A tissue sample, biopsy may be taken, as well as removal of any polyps that may be found. During the procedure you may experience cramp like abdominal pain and bloating as the air is introduced, but this is temporary and resolves after the procedure is completed.
The procedure normally takes 15 to 20 minutes and you must ensure that someone accompanies you especially if you intend to have sedation.
After the procedure you may experience some bleeding, but this should settle after a few days. You must inform us of any untoward bleeding or abdominal pain after the procedure.
What are the main risks:
1) Bleeding (1:100-200) patient especially if a polyp has been removed or a biopsy perfomed.
2) Perforation (1:1,000)
Banding of Haemorrhoids
At the end of a flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure if small haemorrhoids are noted, small rubber bands are applied using a proctoscope (small instrument designed to examine the bottom part of the rectum only). This procedure is very safe painless and is occasionally associated with discomfort and some minor bleeding.
After the procedure the patient may experience some minor bleeding on bowel movement as well as some mucus discharge. These symptoms should settle after 5-7 days.