Gastroenterology

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

About Your Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

What is a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

A sigmoidoscopy is an examination of the lining of the rectum and the sigmoid colon through a flexible tube called a sigmoidoscope. This allows a specially trained physician to directly view this area and identify any problems.

Plan to Do in Advance

  1. Medications, Vitamins and Supplements
    To properly prepare for your procedure, you may need to make certain changes to your daily medication routine.

    • If you take insulin, consult with your physician about making any necessary changes in you daily regimen.
    • If you take medications that contain aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Motrin, Advil, Indocin, or Feldene), we recommend that you stop taking them seven days before your procedure. They may increase your risk of bleeding after removal of a polyp or a biopsy during your flexible sigmoidoscopy by interfering with the normal clotting of your blood.
    • IMPORTANT: IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY TAKING COUMADIN OR HEPARIN, YOU MUST CHECK WITH YOUR PRESCRIBING PHYSICIAN BEFORE CHANGING OR INTERRUPTING YOUR DAILY ROUTINE.
    • Stop taking iron supplements seven days before your procedure.
    • Certain medications should be continued prior to your flexible sigmoidoscopy. If you take cardiac (heart) or anti-hypertensive (high blood pressure) pills, take them as you normally do with small sips of water.
  2. In addition to changes to your medication, you'll also need to:

    • Purchase two Fleet's Enemas, a laxative, to cleanse your bowel. They can be bought over-the-counter at any pharmacy.
    • Bring a list of all your medications (prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and eye drops) with you on the day of your procedure. You may bring the medication bottles themselves.
    • Be prepared to list and describe your ALLERGIES and REACTIONS to any medications.

On the Day Before Your Procedure

To ensure the most accurate result possible, it is important that you do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the day before your procedure, unless you are scheduled for an afternoon procedure (see "On the Day of Your Procedure"). The exception is medication taken with small sips of water.

On the Day of Your Procedure

  • If you are scheduled for a morning procedure:
    Take one Fleet's enema approximately 3 hours before your scheduled arrival time. One hour later, take the other Fleet's enema.
  • If you are scheduled for an afternoon procedure:
    You may have CLEAR LIQUIDS only for breakfast. Approximately 3 hours before your scheduled arrival time, take one Fleet's enema. One hour later, take the other Fleet's enema.

    Clear liquids: water, apple juice, ginger ale, sprite, beef or chicken broth WITHOUT noodles, coffee or tea WITHOUT cream or milk, most sodas, sherbet, pop-sicles, and Jell-O that is not red or orange. DO NOT DRINK ANYTHING RED OR ORANGE.

  • On the day of your flexible sigmoidoscopy, please come directly to the requested location at your scheduled arrival time and check in with the receptionist.
  • You will be taken to the procedure room and will change into a hospital gown. You will be lying on your left side for the procedure and the sigmoidoscope will be passed into your rectum to view the lining of the rectum and sigmoid colon. The procedure takes approximately 5–15 minutes.

After Your Procedure

  • You may have some cramping or bloating as a result of the air placed into your colon during the procedure. You may return home and resume your normal activities.
  • The Endoscopist will discuss the results of your procedure with you prior to your discharge. You will receive discharge instructions on the day of the test.
  • Your endoscopy report and biopsy results will be sent to your referring physician.

If you would like to speak to a nurse regarding your procedure or preparation, or if you need to reschedule your procedure, please call the appropriate number:

  • Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine
    Procedure questions: 215-662-2122
    To reschedule: 215-349-8222
  • Penn Presbyterian Medical Center
    All questions: 215-662-8900
  • Penn Medicine Radnor
    All questions: 610-902-1500

Please be aware that these instructions apply to patients scheduled for procedures at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and Penn Medicine Radnor. However, your doctor may give you different instructions or procedures. If you have any questions about your procedure, please contact your physician at the Digestive & Liver Center.