If you're 45 or over, you should have a colonoscopy to check for signs of cancer. However, what if your GI doctor says you don't need one? You might be a good candidate for a flexible sigmoidoscopy instead.
What Is a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?
During a flexible sigmoidoscopy, your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube (sigmoidoscope) into your rectum and up into your sigmoid colon — the lower part of the large intestine. The tube has a tiny light and camera on the end, so your doctor can look for abnormal growths or bleeding.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy can help identify the cause of your symptoms and determine the best course of treatment.
A tissue sample or biopsy can be taken with the sigmoidoscopy. In some cases, a flexible sigmoidoscopy can also be used to treat certain conditions, such as removing a polyp or widening a narrow section of the colon.
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy vs. Colonoscopy
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is less invasive than a colonoscopy and takes less time. Plus, it's just as effective at finding precancerous polyps in the rectum and sigmoid colon.
Why a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Is Performed
Your doctor may order a flexible sigmoidoscopy for a number of reasons, including to screen for signs of common GI disorders, such as:
- Colon cancer
- Bowel obstruction
Your doctor may recommend a flexible sigmoidoscopy if you are experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms: stool that contains blood or mucous, constipation, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss. A flexible sigmoidoscopy may especially be recommended if you have risk factors for colon cancer, such as a family history, personal history of polyps, and if you are 45 or older.
Call your gastroenterologist if you have unexplained abdominal pain, blood in the stool, and/or changes in your stool (such as its frequency, consistency, or color).
What to Expect
Outpatient flexible sigmoidoscopies are performed by the board-certified, fellowship-trained gastroenterology specialists at Saddleback Medical Group Gastroenterology at the Digestive Care Center in Laguna Hills, CA.
The procedure may be done using a local numbing agent instead of sedation. In some cases, IV sedation may be used.
Prior to the procedure, you will be asked to empty your bowels. You will be given a laxative or enema to help with this process. The staff at Saddleback Medical Group Gastroenterology has prepared the following instructions to help you prepare for your flexible sigmoidoscopy:
During the procedure, a lubricated, flexible tube will be inserted into your rectum. The procedure usually takes about 15-20 minutes.
After the procedure is finished, you will be able to go home and resume your normal activities. You may have some mild cramping or bloating after the procedure, but this should resolve within a day or two. If you have any concerns, be sure to follow up with your doctor.
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy in Laguna Hills, CA
Are you interested in the possibility of a flexible sigmoidoscopy instead of a colonoscopy? Contact the GI specialists at Saddleback Medical Group Gastroenterology in Laguna Hills, California, to find out if a flexible sigmoidoscopy is right for you. Call us at (949) 770-7163 or request a consult now.