Flexible Sigmoidoscopy, What Is It And When Is It Needed?
By Gastrointestinal Specialists, PC
November 22, 2016
Category: Colonoscopy

When you are otherwise healthy, it can be difficult to determine the cause of such symptoms as unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, diarrhea or blood in your stool. If you are experiencing any of these unexplained symptoms, a gastroenterologist can conduct an exam called a flexible sigmoidoscopy to diagnose the problem. At Gastrointestinal Specialists PC, your gastroenterologists in Troy, MI can use this exam to check your colon for signs of polyps or even cancer.

What is Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is an exam performed by gastroenterologists to examine the colon or lower portion of the large intestine. The purpose of the exam is to check for polyps or signs of cancer and it tends to be a quicker procedure than a full colonoscopy. To perform a flexible sigmoidoscopy, a flexible tube called a sigmoidoscope is placed inside the rectum and part of the large intestine. A small video camera positioned at the tip of the sigmoidoscope allows the gastroenterologist to view the interior of the large intestine.

The gastroenterologist can take tissue samples for biopsy if anything unusual is observed during the flexible sigmoidoscopy. As mentioned, the exam is limited to just the lowest portion of the large intestine. If polyps or other abnormalities are found during the exam, your doctor might recommend a follow-up colonoscopy to examine the entire colon. Your experienced gastroenterologist in Troy can advise you if a flexible sigmoidoscopy alone is sufficient to adequately evaluate the health of your colon.

Who Needs a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy can be used as a screening method to check for signs of colon polyps, colon cancer or rectal cancer. Patients over 50 should be periodically screened for colon and rectal cancer. Screening at a younger age is recommended for patients with a family history of color or rectal cancer and for patients with a history of Crohn’s disease, IBD or ulcerative colitis. Additionally, patients experiencing certain unexplained symptoms might benefit from a flexible sigmoidoscopy. These symptoms include:

  • Sudden Weight Loss (with no clear cause)
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Unusual Bowel Activity
  • Bleeding from the Anus

A gastroenterologist can advise you if a flexible sigmoidoscopy is needed at this time, as well as help you determine your risk for developing colon polyps or colorectal cancer. To schedule a consultation with a gastroenterologist in Troy, MI, contact the Gastrointestinal Specialists PC at (248) 273-9930.