Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Flexible sigmoidoscopy may be used to screen for colorectal cancer. A flexible, fiber-optic tube is introduced through the rectum and slowly advanced toward the splenic flexure. This allows for the visualization of the lumen.

The physician may inspect the bowel for polyps and lesions, from the anus to the descending colon. Because this region is the site of 60% of all neoplasms, flexible sigmoidoscopy, along with fecal occult blood testing, provides an effective screening tool for colorectal cancer.

A: position of the sigmoidoscope in the colon; B: endoscopic view; C: detail of the colonoscope tip

No rigorous preparation is required for sigmoidoscopy, other than the administration of two Fleets enemas and the ingestion of a magnesium citrate laxative. Sedation is not required for this procedure, which may be performed by general internists and/or endoscopic technicians with appropriate training.

The procedure has a low complication rate, with perforation occurring in only one to two per 10,000 exams. During this procedure, biopsies of suspicious lesions may be obtained for histological examination.

Patient positioning and room set-up for sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy

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