• This is a procedure to examine the anus, rectum and lower part of the colon (marked in yellow on the diagram). The procedure involves passing a thin tube into the bottom. There may be some discomfort so the procedure is sometimes done with sedation.

Before the procedure

Most medications can be continued prior to the procedure. Please discuss with your doctor if you are taking iron tables, blood thinning medications such as warfarin, rivaroxaban, dibigatran, aspirin, clopidogrel, asasantin or diabetic medications.
You will usually be given an enema when you arrive at the hospital. This will help to clean out the lower colon. Rarely, you will need other bowel preparation before the test.
If you are having sedation during your procedure, your stomach needs to be empty. No food or drink, including water, should be taken for 6 hours before the procedure although important tablets and medications can be taken with a sip of water. If you are not having sedation during the procedure, there is no need to fast.

During the procedure

Usually the procedure will taken 10-15 minutes. You will lie on your side while the doctor performs the procedure. You might experience a feeling of pressure, bloating or cramping during the procedure. If there is an abnormality, a biopsy may be taken and this is not painful. If a polyp is found (a small growth from the lining of the bowel) it may be taken off during the procedure and again, this is not painful. At a later time, you may then need a colonoscopy to examine the entire colon.

After the procedure

The results of the flexi-sigmoidoscopy will be discussed with you after the procedure and a letter will be sent to your local doctor. Biopsy results are usually available after 3 to 5 days.

Possible complications

Although complications can occur, they are rare. You might feel bloating or some mild cramping because of the gas passed into the colon during the examination. Bleeding can occur at a biopsy site or where a polyp was removed, but it’s usually minimal and rarely requires follow-up. Other potential risks include a reaction to the sedative (if used) or complications from underlying diseases of the heart or lungs. The risk of perforation (a tear in the gut lining) is extremely low but rises particular instances, such as if polyps are removed or colitis is present.