Gastroscopy | Colonoscopy | Flexible Sigmoidoscopy


What is Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is the examination of the lower or left side of the large bowel with a fibre optic scope. The scope is about 200cm long and 12mm in diameter. Whilst the scope is in the large bowel images of the bowel lining are seen in real time on a monitor.




The purpose of the procedure is to investigate symptoms such as diarrhoea and rectal bleeding. It is also used to review sites where polyps have previously been removed (if they are in the left colon) and to monitor ulcerative colitis. It does not examine the whole bowel and is generally used in patients who have had most of their large bowel removed or in patients who have previously had a full colonoscopy and are following up issues mentioned above.

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How to Prepare for a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

The preparation required will be decided by Dr Jakobovits, but generally requires a 6 hour fast and an enema which will be administered on arrival at the Day Procedure Centre.

You are to fast (nothing to eat or drink) for 6 hours prior to your arrival time. Please arrive at the designated time. Feel free to bring something to read/do as your arrival time is not the procedure time. You need to check in and change into a hospital gown, which can take some time. In addition the time taken for the cases ahead of you can vary depending on complexity so the exact procedure time is unpredictable.

You will be given an enema in the Day Procedure Unit. Whilst our best intentions are for you to not wait too long, each procedure is unique and sometimes a person on the list in front of you will have unexpected finding which may prolong their procedure time and your wait. You can expect to be at Cabrini Hospital for about 4 hours from arrival time to departure. Sometimes this is much faster and we can call your “pick up” person when you are ready to go.

Please don’t bring any valuables with you. Wear light clothing as you will be required to change.

Do bring your private insurance and medicare details.

It is not mandatory to have an anaesthetic for a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy. Many patients choose to remain awake for the procedure and it is not painful. The advantage of not having an anaesthetic is that you can drive home if you choose to do so.

If you have an anaesthetic you are not allowed to drive home, or drive or operate dangerous machinery for the rest of the day/night. Do not sign any legal documents or drink alcohol during that same period of time. If you cannot find someone to pick you up after your procedure, you can go home in a taxi, but we will keep you for longer to make sure you are alright and it is our preference that a responsible adult be with you for the remainder of the day. On the morning of the following day you can resume all normal activities.


Safety and risks

All activities carry some risk including driving a car. Medical procedures are no different, however Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is a low risk procedure.

The commonest complaint after a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is a sensation of bloating which is caused by the air that was blown into the bowel to enable good views of the bowel lining. This usually dissipates very quickly.

Bleeding can occur after polyps are removed or rarely after biopsies are taken. In the former case bleeding can occur up to 2 weeks after the procedure. If you have any concerns that you may be bleeding after a procedure contact Dr Jakobovits immediately.

Infections following a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy are exceedingly rare due to the strict cleaning procedures undertaken on the equipment after each procedure.

Perforation after Flexible Sigmoidoscopy has been quantified at less than 1/1000 cases for a standard procedure. Removal of larger polyps increases this risk. In the case of a perforation it is possible surgery may be required.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is not a perfect test. In the best hands there are areas of the bowel which cannot be seen and hence lesions, including possible cancers, can be missed.


Gastroscopy | Colonoscopy | Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

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