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Reasons for Procedure
- Obtain tissue samples for testing
- Identify the cause of rectal bleeding, diarrhea , constipation , lower abdominal pain, or inflammation
- Detect the presence of or remove polyps—small growths than can turn cancerous
- Monitor response to treatment if you have inflammatory bowel disease
- Screen for colorectal cancer
- Perforation or puncture of the bowel wall
- Pre-existing heart or kidney condition
- Treatment with certain medications, including aspirin and other drugs with anticoagulant or blood-thinning properties
- Prior abdominal surgery or radiation treatments
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Ask you about your health history and do a physical exam (including a rectal exam)
- Do an occult blood test to check for hidden blood in your stool
- Talk to you about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
- Drinking a special solution to stimulate bowel movements
- Taking laxatives
- Using an enema
Description of the Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
Call Your Doctor
- Bleeding from your rectum
- Black, tarry stools
- Severe abdominal pain
- Hard, swollen abdomen
- Signs of infection, including fever or chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to pass gas or stool
- Chest pain or trouble breathing
American Gastroenterological Association http://www.gastro.org
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov
Canadian Medical Association http://www.cma.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Flexible sigmoidoscopy. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/sigmoidoscopy. Updated May 7, 2014. Accessed September 25, 2014.
Understanding flexible sigmoidoscopy. American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy website. Available at: http://www.asge.org/patients/patients.aspx?id=384. Accessed September 25, 2014.
- Reviewer: Daus Mahnke, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/25/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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