Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

What is a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy? 

Flexible sigmoidoscopy (also known as limited colonoscopy) allows
inspection of the lining of the rectum and lower part of the colon.
It uses a flexible tube with a “video camera” at the tip. The
instrument is about 1 cm in diameter. It is an important
examination used for the diagnosis and treatment of bowel


Your doctor will tell you what preparation is required. If you are not receiving a sedative medication for the procedure, there is no need to fast, prior to the procedure. If your doctor plans to give you sedation for the procedure you will need to fast which will require no food for 6 hours and no liquids 2 hours prior to the procedure. A small enema (a solution that is inserted into the rectum to clean the lower bowel) is the only preparation and it is given just before the procedure. It is unusual to require a full bowel clean out prior to this procedure.
Please inform your doctor prior to the procedure about medications that you are taking:

  • Any anticoagulants (particularly blood thinning medications) such as Warfarin, Aspirin, Clopidogrel (Plavix) or Dabigatran (Pradaxa).
  • Please bring a list of your current medications with you to your appointment.


You will lie on your side while your doctor advances the endoscope through the rectum and colon. You might experience a feeling of pressure, bloating or cramping during the procedure. This is normal. After the procedure, your doctor will explain the results to you.
If you receive sedative medications for your procedure, it is very important that you do not drive a car, travel on public transport alone or operate machinery for 12 hours.


Flexible sigmoidoscopy and biopsy are very safe when performed by doctors who are specially trained and experienced in these endoscopic procedures. Complications occur rarely, and could include problems such as: bleeding from a biopsy, or polyp removal site and damage to the wall of the bowel (perforation). These complications are uncommon, but it is important for you to recognise early signs of possible complications.
Contact your doctor or the hospital if you notice:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Fevers and chills
  • Rectal bleeding