Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Specialist diagnosis of gastroenterological conditions with testing via flexible sigmoidoscopy

Endoscopy is the term used to describe a medical procedure that uses a fine flexible tube, which houses a light and camera in its tip, to explore parts of the human body.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is one such form of endoscopy and is one of the main procedures to test for bowel cancer.

The point of flexible sigmoidoscopy is to routinely and safely examine the last part of the colon, looking for polyps.

The benefit with a flexible sigmoidoscopy, over other types of endoscopy, is that usually you do not need sedation. Also, the risk of any serious complication is very low.

About flexible sigmoidoscopy

  • It is particularly useful in investigating the cause of bright red rectal bleeding.
  • The procedure may last 10 minutes or so.
  • The point of this examination is to look at the entire left side of the bowel or colon up to what is known as the splenic flexure.
    • The splenic flexure is a sharp bend in the colon, and is about a third of the way around.
    • The bend sits close to the spleen hence the name.

  • The risks of flexible sigmoidoscopy are very low
  • The most serious complication, known as a perforation, occurs in less than 1 in 10,000 cases.
  • A flexible sigmoidoscopy is typically also used for bowel cancer screening where patients are between age 55 and 60.
  • It offers more accuracy than a virtual colonoscopy however, if polyps are found you would then need a full colonoscopy.

Why would a flexible sigmoidoscopy be needed?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy could be needed to help with diagnosis, if you are experiencing any key symptoms of stomach and gut conditions, such as:

  • Passing blood
  • Change in bowel habit
  • A low blood count or anaemia
  • A history of colon polyps
  • Bowel cancer screening

What to expect from a flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure

It is always reassuring to know what to expect from an examination before you actually go. A specialist consultant will prepare you in advance and answer any questions.

Useful information

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy is performed as a day case procedure.
  • Unless a patient specifically asks for it this test is done without any sedative.
  • On arrival the nurse will administer a phosphate enema.
  • The enema will stimulate the colon to empty so it is vital to be near a bathroom to empty the bowel.
  • About 30 – 60 minutes after the enema is given, the procedure can begin.
  • Initially, the doctor will perform a rectal exam, using a little jelly on a gloved finger.
  • This is to feel for any obvious lumps or bumps and to ensure the bowel is empty of stool.
  • Next, the flexible bendy endoscope, with a bright light and camera on the end, is inserted and advanced around the colon.
  • Before removing the scope, the doctor performs a manoeuvre in the rectum to turn the tip of the scope almost 180 degrees so that the entrance to the bowel can be seen.
  • Here the doctor is checking for signs of haemorrhoids, which can sometimes be the cause of fresh blood being passed with a bowel movement.

Book to see a specialist

For many years patients have been coming to Dr Anton Bungay for endoscopy examinations and expert advice and diagnosis on a range of gastroenterological conditions, including:

  • Diagnosis of bowel cancer
  • Diagnosis of ulcerative colitis
  • Diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease
  • Family history and early signs
  • Bowel cancer screening

Feel reassured that you are not alone and that specialist help is available.


How it works

  1. Arrange an appointment at the practice most convenient for you
  2. Dr Anton Bungay will carry out a thorough examination followed by expert advice on your symptoms
  3. If further testing is required this will be explained to you so you are always fully aware of the next steps
  4. After care is available if you have any questions following the consultation.

Important information