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Flexible sigmoidoscopy refers to the passing of a flexible plastic tube through the anus into the colon (large bowel). This enables the doctor to diagnose cancers, polyps, colitis and diverticular disease. During the test you will be lying on your left side. A specialist anaesthetist will administer short acting sedative drugs by vein and then examination will begin. Flexible sigmoidoscopy usually takes 15 to 20 minutes and most people have little memory of it. During the test you may feel some discomfort as the bowel is inflated with air; this is mostly removed at the end.
THE BOWEL PREPARATION
You will need to fast completely for 6 hours prior to your admission time. You will be given an enema to clear your bowel by the nurses on arrival at the hospital.
After the test you will be sleepy for at least 1 hour. Once you awaken you will be given some light refreshment. If you feel well you will be able to go home within 1 to 2 hours. You must be escorted. The sedative drugs impair judgement, so you must not drive a car until the next day; the entire day must be taken off work. The hospital anaesthetic departments policy states you must be escorted home (you cannot travel unaccompanied in a taxi), and you must have someone stay with you overnight.
There are potential hazards to this procedure including the potential for death. The overall risk is very small. It includes such things as vomiting, pain and perforation (bursting) of the colon. Perforation occurs very rarely (about 1 in 1000) cases. If it occurs you may require surgery within 24-48 hours and would likely recover in hospital over 7-10 days. Please inform us if you have any pain, fever or vomiting in the 24 to 48 hours following flexible sigmoidoscopy.