Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

What is a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy enables the physician to look at the inside of the large intestine from the rectum through the last part of the colon, called the sigmoid or descending colon. Physicians may use the procedure to find the cause of diarrhoea, abdominal pain, constipation, or bleeding. Early signs of cancer can be detected in the descending colon, sigmoid colon and rectum. With flexible Sigmoidoscopy, the physician can see bleeding, inflammation, abnormal growths and ulcers. Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is not sufficient to detect polyps or cancer in the ascending or transverse colon.

What to bring:

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes.
  • Your Medicare card, private health fund and pension or Veterans Affairs details if applicable.
  • A current referral from your GP or referring specialist (if not sent through prior).
  • The contact name and telephone number of someone who will take you home.

How are you prepared?

You are to consume NO FOOD from midnight the day of your procedure. If your appointment is later in the day you may have CLEAR FLUIDS ONLY until four hours prior to your procedure. You should then be Nil By Mouth (i.e. no food, fluids, water, smoking) until after your procedure.


You will remain in the endoscopy unit for up to 3 hours until the main effects of the sedation wear off and you have had something to eat/drink. You may feel slightly bloated due to the air that has been introduced through the endoscope. This will quickly pass. Your throat may feel sore. You should not attempt to eat or drink anything until your swallowing reflex has returned to normal. After this you may return to a normal diet, unless otherwise instructed. You should avoid alcohol for 12 hours after your procedure.

  • For legal reasons you must not drive a vehicle or operate machinery for at least 12 hours following intravenous sedation. Failure to do so carries the same implications as drink driving.
  • You must have a responsible adult escort you home (i.e. you should not go to work) and stay with you for 12 hours after the procedure. Also you should not care for dependent persons without responsible help for at least 12 hours after your procedure.
  • You are also advised to be very careful in simple household tasks in the 12 hours after receiving sedation. Your coordination may be impaired for some time and it is important, therefore, not to use sharp knives, risk kitchen burns etc.

If you develop any pain, fever, vomiting or blood loss after the procedure, you should contact your doctor immediately or the hospital where your procedure took place. Alternately, after hours, you can contact our after hours service on 3261 9570.

What will happen?

The doctor and/or nurse will explain the procedure and answer any questions you have. Please inform them if you have had any previous endoscopic examinations or any adverse reactions to sedatives or other medications. You may have to remove your dentures. Please inform the staff if you have any loose teeth or crowns. Also notify the staff if you are known to have a heart murmur as you may require antibiotics before the procedure.

Safety and Risks

Rarely patients may have a reaction to the sedation. If you wish to have full details of RARE complications, you should discuss further with your doctor prior to the procedure. The overall complication rate is less than 1 in 1000 procedures. The risk is greater if a therapeutic intervention is performed eg dilatation of a narrowing or control of a bleeding vessel or ulcer.


A copy of the results will be sent to your referring doctor and be provided to you on the day of the procedure or within 3 working days. A full report and assessment will be sent to your referring doctor within approximately 3 days. Your treating specialist will contact you if he has any serious concerns or if you require a further appointment with him. Should you have any questions or concerns contact our practice nurse at Digestive Diseases Queensland.

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