Determine the cause of diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation & look for signs of cancer

This 10 to 20 minute procedure allows your physician to examine the inside of the large intestine from the anus through the last part of the colon, also known as the sigmoid or descending colon. Doctors may use flexible sigmoidoscopy, to determine the cause of diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation or look for signs of cancer. Your doctor will insert a short flexible, lighted tube, called a sigmoidoscope, into your anus and gradually guide the tube into the colon. The scope of the instrument produces an image of the inside of the anus and colon, enabling the doctor to see bleeding, inflammation, abnormal growths or ulcers. If any abnormalities, such as a polyp are found, your physician can remove a piece of it by using instruments inserted into the scope. You may feel pressure and slight cramping in your lower abdomen during the procedure.

Prior to the procedure, the patient will receive instructions on how to clean and empty the colon. This generally consists of a special solution, laxatives or enemas followed by a clear liquid diet until the sigmoidoscopy is performed. Possible complications include bleeding and puncture of the colon. However, these complications are rare.

What to Expect

Preparation for the Procedure
  1. I'm dizzy or have a headache, what should I do?

    Dizziness and headache could be signs of low blood sugar. Drinking a regular carbonated beverage (not diet) or apple juice may alleviate these symptoms.

  2. What if I start to feel nauseated or start vomiting?

    Wait 15-30 minutes before continuing prep then start back slowly. You may also take a Benadryl to help control the nausea.

  3. What is the best "clear" liquid to take?

    Gatorade, which comes in many flavors, is an excellent choice as it contains electrolytes such as potassium. Avoid RED/BLUE liquids. We also recommend beef and chicken bouillon made from cubes (not broth).

  4. Why avoid red/blue liquids?

    The color can persist in the colon and make an accurate diagnosis more difficult.

  5. My bottom is so sore. What can I do?

    To clean the area, avoid rubbing. Gently pat with a wet washcloth. Apply Vaseline, Preparation H, or Desitin liberally.

  6. Can I drink alcoholic beverages?

    We strongly suggest you do not drink any alcoholic beverages prior to your procedure since they can cause dehydration and some wines may thin your blood.

  7. Can I chew gum or suck candy?

    Yes, but nothing with soft centers or red color. No candy is allowed 4 hours prior to your procedure.

  8. I have been instructed not to take anti-inflammatories or blood thinners several days before the procedure. What can I take for headaches and pain relief?

    You may take Tylenol as directed.

  9. How is a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy procedure different than a colonoscopy?

    A Flex Sig only looks at the rectum and the sigmoid of the colon and not the entire colon from rectum to the cecum. Often sedation is not needed. These procedures are usually done to recheck a known problem or a brief exam for inflammation in this area. A colonoscopy is a more through screening exam of the colon for polyps and other abnormalities.

Day of Procedure Questions
  1. What should I wear?

    Loose comfortable clothing is recommended. You can wear make up but we advise patients not to wear jewelry. If you wear contacts please bring your case and solution so that you can remove them prior to your procedure.

  2. Can I drive myself home after the procedure?

    No, since sedatives are used, another driver is needed. This driver MUST stay during the procedure or the procedure will not be performed. This is for your personal safety. You may bring more than one person with you, but only one person can be with you in recovery due to space limitations.

  3. What if I am still passing stool the morning of my test?

    Take a tap water enema until you run clear. If this does not work, call the office.

  4. One of the medications I was instructed to take the morning of my procedure is red. Can I take it?

    Medication for blood pressure, heart conditions, and seizure should be taken the morning of your exam regardless of the color. Light blue and light pink medications are also fine for you to take.

  5. Can I brush my teeth?


  6. Can I wear my dentures?

    Yes, you may wear your dentures to the Endoscopy suite. However, you may be asked to remove them prior to the procedure.

  7. Why do I have to be there an hour before the time procedure is scheduled? What if I am running late?

    We ask patients to arrive early so that we can do a pre-procedure assessment and start the IV. Please call if you are running more than 15 minutes late, so that we can work together to adjust the schedule so that we can accommodate this delay.

After the Procedure Questions
  1. My bottom is so sore. What can I do?

    To clean the area, avoid rubbing. Gently pat with a wet washcloth. Apply Vaseline, Preparation H, or Desitin liberally.

  2. How do I get my results?

    Results are given by the doctor to you in the recovery room. You may or may not remember talking to the doctor so your results will also be in your discharge instructions. Pathology may take up to 2 weeks to get results.

    We have implemented our Patient Portal to enable you to receive your lab, pathology and radiology test results at your convenience. You may also ask your questions through the portal. 

    First - Get enrolled in the Portal at

    Once Enrolled in the Portal, you will log into your account at

    For New Results: You will receive an email notice that new results are ready for your review. You will log into your Portal account to get those results. You must be enrolled within 3 days after your procedure for your results to be posted to the portal. 

    To Ask Questions, Request an Appointment or Request Copies of Previous Records: You will log into your Portal account and request those services. 

    **Please note: Enroll in our Patient Portal soon. Results can’t be sent automatically until you have created your portal account. If we have your email address, you will receive an email with the link to the enrollment site.