BY FRANK CALIENDO M.D.
The team at Colon & Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York offers a wide array of services to help address and diagnose a number medical conditions. Our Long Island team uses both tired-and-true and state-of-the-art tools, which are important for proper exams and treatment.
While many people are familiar with colonoscopies, there’s another type of exam that’s important for colorectal conditions. This is known as a flexible sigmoidoscopy. Let’s consider the basics of this diagnostic procedure and how patients can prepare for their exam.
About Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a type of test performed to examine a person’s rectum and lower colon. This type of test is commonly performed when people notice issues with rectal bleeding, chronic diarrhea, changes in the nature of one’s bowel movements, and so forth.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is also common among people who suffer from serious health conditions that affect the digestive tract or the bowels, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colorectal cancer or the risk of colorectal cancer, and anal ulcers.
The Basics of Preparation and Why It’s Necessary
In order to prepare for a flexible sigmoidoscopy, it’s important that patients clean out their colon. By cleaning the colon of fecal residue and matter, it allows colorectal specialists to have an unobscured view of the patient’s rectum and colon. This helps with diagnostic tests and screenings, and allows for greater accuracy when performing this test.
Common Ways of Emptying Your Colon
There are a few ways that a patient may go about cleaning their colon, which can be discussed during the consultation process prior to a flexible sigmoidoscopy. You may be asked to do a combination of these actions before the flexible sigmoidoscopy is performed.
- Follow Special Dietary Rules – The day before your exam, it’s important to avoid all solid foods. Patients are allowed to drink clear, pulp-free liquids, such as water, broth, and tea or coffee without milk.
- Take a Laxative the Night Before Your Exam– The night before the exam, it’s important to take an over-the-counter laxative to clear out the bowels.
- Use an Enema Kit – Either the night before the exam or in the hours before the exam, patients are asked to perform an enema at home. This will again help with a proper and more accurate exam.
Adjust Use of Medications If Directed to Do So
If you take any medications, your doctor may ask you to adjust dosage in the week before your exam. Certain kinds of over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin or iron supplements, will also need to be discussed prior to your flexible sigmoidoscopy.
What to Expect During a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
At the flexible sigmoidoscopy itself, patients will be asked to lie on their side. The sigmoidoscope will be inserted into the patient’s rectum. A little bit of air will be pumped into the colon for a better view of the tissue lining. Using an external monitor, the doctor will be able to examine the lining of the colon and identify any causes for concern.
In general, a flexible sigmoidoscopy takes about 15 minutes to complete. A full colonoscopy may be performed if there are any polyps or growths discovered during the flexible sigmoidoscopy.
Contact Colon & Rectal Surgical Specialists of New York
For more information about diagnostic tests and treatment options, be sure to contact our team of colorectal surgeons and specialists today. Our team will help you in any way we can, answering questions and addressing your concerns as they arise.