The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Diagnostic Tests - Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
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What happens when the test is performed?

  • You wear a hospital gown for the procedure and lie on your side on a table. After applying some clear jelly to his or her gloved hand, the doctor feels the inside of your rectum with a finger, then gently inserts one end of the sigmoidoscope inside.

    The doctor will fill your intestine with air, which often causes some pain similar to the cramping you might get when you have gas. As the camera on the scope transmits pictures to a video screen, your doctor watches for any suspicious lesions on your bowel lining. If one appears, he or she might use some small clippers on the end of the scope to take a tissue sample to check under the microscope. When the test is finished, the doctor vacuums the air out of your intestine and slowly removes the tube. The test usually takes 10-30 minutes.


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