Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a diagnostic exam conducted to evaluate the lower part of the large intestine, known as the sigmoid or descending colon.

While a flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy both use a scope to examine the intestines, only a colonoscopy examines the entire colon. A flexible sigmoidoscopy only looks at the left side of the colon.

If it is determined that a sigmoidoscopy is a better option, it may be recommended that a fecal occult blood test be conducted as well, which can detect cancer located anywhere in the colon.


A flexible sigmoidoscopy is performed to search for causes of conditions such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal growths
  • Bleeding
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Early signs of colon cancer
  • Inflammation
  • Ulcers

What to Expect

During the procedure, a thin, flexible tube with a video camera at its tip, known as a sigmoidscope, is inserted into the rectum. The scope then blows air into the rectum and the sigmoid colon to inflate the organs, allowing the physician to carefully examine the linings. If necessary, biopsies (tissue samples) may also be taken through the scope during the exam to be sent to a lab for analysis. This procedure is typically performed without sedation.


Your physician will let you know when your results are in and discuss them with you.

Negative results

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is considered negative when no abnormalities are discovered in the sigmoid colon.

Positive results

The results of this procedure are considered positive when polyps or abnormal tissues are found. Depending on what is found, additional testing may be required to biopsy or examine the abnormalities more carefully.

For more information on this procedure or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, contact us today.