Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a diagnostic procedure used to screen for abnormalities in the sigmoid colon. This procedure examines the sigmoid colon (the lower third of the colon) using a lighted flexible scope that is inserted into the anus and advanced to the splenic flexure. It is possible to take biopsies during this procedure.    

Sigmoidoscopy Procedure Preparation 

  • Your physician or physician's office will give you instructions as to which bowel preparation you will need to clean out your colon. You may also have diet and/or medication restrictions the week prior to the exam.
  • If you have not received the instructions two weeks prior to the exam, please contact the physician who will be performing the procedure.
  • Contact the physician and inform him or her of any special needs, medical conditions, latex allergy or current medications you are taking.
  • The GI Lab staff will attempt to contact you the evening before your procedure to answer any questions you may have.

Pre-Sigmoidoscopy Procedure Expectations

  • You may be expected to arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time.
  • The procedure usually takes about 15-20minutes.
  • During the exam, there is often a feeling of cramping, bloating or pressure in the abdominal area.
  • Patients usually lie on their left side or on their back during the exam.
  • During the procedure the physician may take biopsies (small tissue samples) or remove polyps (growths on the lining of the colon).

Post-Sigmoidoscopy Procedure Expectations

  • Since the sigmoid is expanded with air during the procedure, you are encouraged to pass flatus (gas) after the procedure.
  • Once you have met the discharge criteria, the physician will discuss with you the preliminary findings.
  • Diet and/or medication restrictions may be given to certain patients depending on the findings of the exam.
  • Patients are provided discharge instructions to take home.

Note: Routinely this procedure is not done with intravaneous sedation.


The nature of our practice is to provide our patients the utmost in care and services. We ask ahead of time to please excuse any delay in care. Our commitment is to provide you with the same careful attention and care as soon as possible. You can expect excellent care and service in the GI Labs of NorthShore University HealthSystem.

This procedure is available at all of our GI lab locations
To schedule an appointment call the Patient Access Center at 1.888.364.6400. 

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