A test that is used for the diagnosis of the sigmoid colon is known as sigmoidoscopy. The sigmoid colon is the lowest portion of the large bowel or intestine. This portion is near the rectum and the anus.
A sigmoidoscopy helps in determining the following signs:
- Pain in abdomen
- Blood loss
A sigmoidoscopy can be performed to obtain tissues for laboratory samples or biopsies. Also, it helps eradicate polyps or hemorrhoids. A hemorrhoid is a condition when the veins of the anus and the rectum are swollen due to any reason. It can be preferred as a diagnosis for colon and rectal cancer.
A thin and flexible tube that has a camera at one end is used for the sigmoidoscopy. It is known as a sigmoidoscope. It is inserted through the anus and gradually it reaches up to the rectum and finally into the colon. There is an air blowing feature in the tube, which further expands the colon and it can be seen clearly.
Why does someone need a sigmoidoscopy?
A sigmoidoscopy can be considered an option for the examining and diagnosis of the different parts of your colon, such as:
- Polyps or tumors
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Discomfort near the anus
- Iron deficiency
- Irregular bowel movements
- Low blood level
Sigmoidoscopy is a single test both for the colon and rectal cancer diagnosis. The doctors and the experts advise that once you are 50 or above you should start colon and rectal cancer screening. It is recommended for both men and women. You can talk with your doctor about the best screening method for you. There are several choices for the diagnosis of colon cancer.
There can be other reasons too if your surgeon asks you for a sigmoidoscopy. If a poly comes in the sigmoidoscopy reports then a colonoscopy is performed for a more detailed diagnosis of the colon.
What are some possible complications after the sigmoidoscopy?
The sigmoidoscopy involves the following risks:
- Blood loss following a biopsy
- Peritonitis (inflammation in the abdominal lining)
- A hole or perforation in the wall of the intestine is a very uncommon risk.
- The problems which can affect sigmoidoscopy are:
- Usage of an enema or any laxative before the test, leading to discomfort in the colon’s lining
- If you recently had another colon screening test then this time it may cause barium in the colon
- Improper bowel homework before the process
- The problem that can block the movement of the tube such as surgical scars or chronic diseases
- Bleeding in the rectum can blur the screening
There might be other risks. You can discuss them before with your doctor.
How to prepare yourself for the sigmoidoscopy?
- Your doctor will completely explain the procedure and answer all your concerns and questions. Before the procedure, you need to sign a consent form. You must read the form keenly. You must discuss the following things before the process of sigmoidoscopy:
- If you an expecting or there are chances for you to get pregnant
- Any specific drug you are allergic to, counting in the prescribed medicines, supplements, and herbs.
- Any bleeding background or history
- If you have been taking any drug which helps in thinning the blood such as aspirin. And also, the medicines which influence blood clotting. You must need to stop taking these types of medicines.
Your doctor or nurse will give you some tips regarding the preparation of the bowel before the procedure. You may drink water with laxatives or enemas. This will cleanse your bowel thoroughly. You may ask to stop eating several hours before the test.
What will happen through the sigmoidoscopy?
You may be admitted to the hospital or you might reach the hospital on the morning of the test. The method of the test depends on your medical condition expertness of your doctor. Typically, anesthesia or a sedative is not needed before this test.
You need to put off any jewelry or any other accessories which can disturb the procedure. You may need to wear a hospital gown and change your clothes.
Your doctor will ask you to lie down on the table with your kneed fold to your chest, on your left side. Also, your doctor may set you in a knee-chest position with your head bent down, contact with the table.
Typically, it is done as:
- Your doctor will look for any possible bleeding, mucus, or feces in the rectum. Then he or she will expand or dilate the anus.
- Then the doctor will gently put a tube (lubricated) in the anus and moves it slowly to the rectum until it finally reaches into the lower colon. After the examination of the lower part, it will be taken out of the anus.
- A sigmoidoscopy may be performed along with the anoscopy or proctoscopy. Anoscopy is a test for checking the anus and proctoscopy is for checking the anus and rectum both. In this case, a specially designed tube is used.
- A sigmoidoscopy may be a little uneasy. You might need to pass out bowel movements once the tube enters the anus. There may be cramps or pain in the lower abdomen. You can lessen this pain by breathing deeply.
During this screening, a sample for checking cancer can be obtained from the lining of your intestine’s wall. For this purpose a specially designed forceps, swab, or brush is needed. Any observed polyp can be removed.
What happens following the sigmoidoscopy?
- You must lie back on your back for few minutes before getting up. Make very slow movements. In this way, you will feel less dizzy.
- You can resume your diet and activities if your doctor allows you.
- In case of poly removal or biopsy, you might observe some blood in the feces. Don’t worry it will stop after some days.
The patient may feel a lot of gas in the abdomen. This can be resolved by walking.
You should contact your doctor if:
- You feel high temperature
- Blood from rectum
- Pain in abdomen
- Difficulty in passing out gas