A flexible sigmoidoscopy is in effect a short colonoscopy. It is a flexible fibre optic scope examination of the rectum, sigmoid colon and a variable length of the descending colon. The intention is to reach the splenic flexure which is most patients is approximately 60cm from the anal verge. There are specific indications for performing a flexible sigmoidoscopy over a colonoscopy and either Dr Renaut or your GP will discuss these with you before scheduling the procedure. If and when indicated, a flexible sigmoidoscopy has distinct advantages over a colonoscopy:
- The bowel preparation that is necessary for a colonoscopy is not required.
- The patient is not required to alter their diet in any way.
- The patient does not require sedation or any form of anaesthesia.
Pre-operative Preparation for a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy procedure
The preparation that is required for a flexible sigmoidoscopy is a fleet enema to be administered approximately 2 hours prior to the procedure. It is preferable that this is done at home just before you leave to come into hospital. Alternatively it can be done on arrival at the hospital. A fleet enema can be purchased from any pharmacy without a prescription. You may be persuaded by some pharmacists that you require a fleet bowel prep – they need to be disabused of this significant advice error. Because you are not having any sedation or any form of anaesthesia you are not required to fast.
The procedure will take approximately 10-15 minutes. It takes place in the Endoscopy suite. You will be wide awake and be able to watch the procedure on the video monitor if you feel so inclined. A small amount of air is gently pumped into the colon to distend it. It may produce the sensation of trapped wind but it is only momentary and will be removed upon withdrawal of the scope. If at any stage you become uncomfortable then Dr Renaut will stop the procedure at that point.
Post-operative Care following a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy procedure
There are no special requirements with regards to post-operative care. The real benefits of a flexible sigmoidoscopy over a colonoscopy is that you can walk out of the endoscopy suite unaccompanied and you can pursue your normal day to day activities unwinded.