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Sigmoidoscopy (Anoscopy, Proctoscopy)

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Colon Cancer: Which Screening Test Should I Have?

Why It Is Done

These tests are done to:

  • Detect problems or diseases of the anus, rectum, or lower large intestine (sigmoid colon). These tests are often done to investigate symptoms such as unexplained bleeding from the rectum, long-lasting diarrhea or constipation, blood or pus in the stool, or lower abdominal pain.
  • Remove polyps or hemorrhoids.
  • Monitor the growth of polyps or the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Screen for colon cancer or polyps.

How To Prepare

Anoscopy

Usually, no preparation is needed for an anoscopy.

Proctoscopy and sigmoidoscopy

Test preparation for a proctoscopy and sigmoidoscopy may be similar. Before the test:

  • Talk with your doctor to find out if you need to stop taking some medicines, such as warfarin, before the test.
  • Tell your doctor if you have a history of intestinal problems or had surgery recently.

The preparation for these tests usually involves a thorough cleaning of the lower colon, because it must be completely clear of stool (feces). Even a small amount of fecal material can affect the accuracy of the test.

  • You may be instructed to follow a liquid diet for 1 to 2 days before the test.
  • You may be instructed to not eat for up to 12 hours before the test.
  • You may need to have two enemas before the examination.
  • You may not need special preparation, especially if you have watery or bloody diarrhea.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for this test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

You will most likely lie on your left side during the test. You may also be asked to kneel on the table with your bottom raised in the air.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 30, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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