MBBS, PhD, MRCP, FRCP.
Gastro Specialist in Manchester.
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0161 495 7000
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A sigmoidoscopy is a test which allows the endoscopist to look at the lining of the lower part of the bowel.
This is done by passing a long flexible tube with a bright light at the end, (which is the thickness of your index finger) through the back passage (anus) and into the lower part of the bowel. Sedation may be offered for this procedure to help you relax.
In some cases it may be necessary to take small samples of tissues (biopsies) using tiny forceps, which are then sent to the laboratory for testing. The taking of biopsies is painless and very safe.
It may also be necessary for the endoscopist to remove polyps from the lining of the bowel. These polyps are projections of tissue which grow on the lining of the bowel and are removed using a small wire loop, which burns through the tissue. Removing polyps is painless.
You may be asked to have an enema before your test and this can be done in the privacy of your own home one hour before coming into hospital or this can be arranged when you arrive at the hospital.
What are the possible risks?
Complications can develop during or after the procedure. Every effort is made to prevent, recognise and treat these.
There is a very small risk of bleeding and tearing of the bowel, which may require urgent treatment or even an operation. This occurs in 1 in 10,000.
The risk is increased if polyps are removed from the bowel. Slight rectal bleeding is normal following the taking of biopsies and should settle down over the next 24 hours.
A reaction to the drugs used is another complication and although very rare, if it did occur, you would be required to stay in hospital. Any worries you may have about this can be discussed in detail with your GP or the endoscopy staff.
What are the benefits?
This is a quick and easy way of examining the lowest part of the large bowel. We can take samples of the bowel lining for examination under the microscope. We can snare and remove polyps.