Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Specialist

Advanced GI LLC

Gastroenterology located in Chicago, IL

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a test to evaluate the rectum and lower large intestine. At Advanced GI LLC, dedicated gastroenterologists Michael Flicker, MD, and Carl Atallah, DO, perform this test to find the cause of problems like abdominal or rectal pain, rectal bleeding, and chronic diarrhea. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is also a colon cancer screening test that’s less invasive than colonoscopy. To learn more, book an appointment at the office in the Lake View area of Chicago, Illinois, by phone or online.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Q&A

What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a simple but highly accurate outpatient test to evaluate your rectum and sigmoid (lower) colon. Your gastroenterologist at Advanced GI LLC may perform a flexible sigmoidoscopy if you have abdominal or rectal symptoms such as: 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Bowel habit changes 

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is also a method of colon cancer screening. It's less extensive than a colonoscopy, as a colonoscopy includes an exam of your entire colon. 

If you have flexible sigmoidoscopy as colon cancer screening, you'll need to have the test every five years instead of every 10 years for colonoscopy. 

What happens with the flexible sigmoidoscopy?

For this test, you'll lie on your left side, drawing your knees up. Your Advanced GI LLC gastroenterologist threads a slim, flexible tube, a sigmoidoscope, into your anus and through your rectum and sigmoid colon. 

The end of the sigmoidoscope has a miniature camera, which sends real-time video to a television monitor where your gastroenterologist can see your sigmoid colon and rectum in extreme detail. 

The sigmoidoscope also has an opening through which your doctor delivers air at regular intervals. The air inflates the colon and improves visibility during the test. 

If your gastroenterologist discovers abnormal tissue during the exam, they'll remove a small sample for later lab evaluation. Your doctor can also remove polyps — potentially precancerous growths in your colon or rectum lining — during your flexible sigmoidoscopy.  

Removing polyps may prevent colon cancer. If you have a significant amount of polyp growths, your doctor may recommend removal later, during a more extensive exam (colonoscopy). 

The exam takes about 5-15 minutes. 

What is the prep for flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Your Advanced GI LLC doctor gives your preparation instructions at least several days before the procedure. Because stool can obscure vision and lead to imprecise test results, flexible sigmoidoscopy prep includes cleaning out your bowels. 

Typically, you'll follow a clear liquid diet the day before your test and fast the day of the test. You'll use an enema (or two) a few hours before your exam, and you may also use a laxative, according to your doctor's guidelines. 

You might need to discontinue or change medication dosages temporarily leading up to your flexible sigmoidoscopy, as well. 

What happens after a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

After your procedure, you might have some minor abdominal bloating and discomfort. This eases quickly, usually by the end of the day. 

You can resume your usual routine right away after a flexible sigmoidoscopy. Because you don't need anesthesia or sedation for this procedure, you can even drive yourself home. 

Book your appointment at Advanced GI LLC by calling the office or scheduling online.