What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?
A gastroenterologist, or healthcare provider specializing in the gastrointestinal system, performs a flexible sigmoidoscopy to view the inside of the lower (sigmoid) part of your colon and rectum. Your healthcare provider uses a sigmoidoscope, a flexible lighted tube with a camera. The procedure helps your healthcare provider diagnose, and sometimes treat, bowel disorders and cancer.
Who might need a flexible sigmoidoscopy?
Your healthcare provider may recommend a flexible sigmoidoscopy if you experience:
- Abdominal pain.
- Chronic diarrhea.
- Rectal bleeding.
- Unexplained weight loss.
Why do healthcare providers perform flexible sigmoidoscopies?
Healthcare providers use flexible sigmoidoscopies to diagnose:
- Colon cancer.
- Colon polyps (groups of cells in the colon that can become cancer).
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), namely ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
- Rectal ulcers.
What’s the difference between a flexible sigmoidoscopy and a colonoscopy?
Both procedures are screening tools for colon cancer. A sigmoidoscopy is less invasive. It allows your healthcare provider to see only the lower part of the colon. With a colonoscopy, your healthcare provider can examine all of the large intestine. If the flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure reveals polyps in your lower colon, your healthcare provider can remove them. You’ll need a colonoscopy next. During a colonoscopy, your healthcare provider can remove additional polyps before they turn cancerous.