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A Sigmoidoscopy is a visual examination of the lining of the lower portion of the bowel and is performed by passing a small flexible tube through the rectum. If necessary, biopsies may be taken during the course of the examination.

Sigmoidoscopy is a safe procedure, and complications are rare but can occur: Bleeding can occur from biopsies or the removal of polyps (0.3-6.1%), but it is usually minimal and can be controlled. The endoscope can cause a tear or hole in the colon. This is a serious problem, but it does not happen commonly. (1:1000 patients and 2:1000post polypectomy). These complications may require urgent medical treatment or surgical intervention (operation) which can carry risk to life and health.

You may continue to take essential medication but if you are taking anticoagulants such as warfarin or plavix you should receive/seek specific advice from the doctor when the test is being organised. Iron tablets should also be stopped one week before examination. If you have any concerns about your diabetes, you should contact the unit for advice before you attend for your test.

  • The scheduling of your appointment is an approximate estimate and unfortunately, there can be unforeseen delays.
  • Food may be taken up to six hours prior to admission.
  • Water can be taken up to two hours prior to admission.
  • You may be given an enema after you arrive at the hospital.
  • If you have a referral letter from your doctor, present this to the secretary on arrival.
  • Bring all details of private medical insurance.
  • Check with your insurance company prior to your admission to confirm your level of cover.
  • Bring a list of current medication.
  • Do not bring jewellery or large sums of money.
  • If under 16 years, you must be accompanied by your parent or guardian who is required to give written consent.
  • You may receive sedation for this procedure. If so, you must be accompanied home.
  • You will not be allowed to take a taxi home alone.
  • A nurse will be with you at all times.
  • You will be asked to lie on your left side.
  • An intravenous injection (sedation and a pain relieving medication) is given into the vein to make you feel relaxed and sleepy but not unconscious - this is not a general anaesthetic.
  • A monitor will be placed on your finger to assess heart rate and oxygen levels.
  • The doctor passes the scope through your rectum and into your bowel.
  • Air will be passed into the bowel via the scope which can cause some cramping but this usually passes quickly.
  • When the procedure is finished the scope is removed.

If you use a wheelchair, have a physical or any other disability, please contact us to let us know in advance so that we can ensure you receive the appropriate supports.

  • Further tests may be requested by the consultant. These tests may be completed on the same day of your examination or a future date will be given.
  • If you have not received sedation, you may go home as soon as follow up instructions have been given and may resume all normal activities immediately.
  • If you have received sedation, you will be observed in the day ward until the effects of the sedation have worn off. The intravenous cannula will be removed from your arm before you go home.

You may experience minor discomfort such as cramps or bloating post procedure, these usually settle within 24 hours. Your nurse will advise you of further instructions or follow up pre discharge.

If you have had sedation you must not drink alcohol or drive until the following day and you must be accompanied home.

Seek medical attention immediately if:

  • You begin to vomit or have black bowel motions
  • You develop severe nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain

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