Sigmoidoscopy (Anoscopy, Proctoscopy)
How To Prepare
Usually, no preparation is needed for an
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 been diagnosed with
toxic megacolon or if you have had recent bowel
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
- You may be instructed to follow a
liquid diet for 1 to 2 days before the
- You may be instructed to not eat for up to 12 hours before
- You may need to have an enema the night before the test
and another enema an hour 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
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
You will usually 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.
Once you are in position:
- Your doctor will gently insert a gloved finger
into your anus to check for tenderness or blockage. For men, your doctor will
also check the condition of the
- The lubricated scope is
then inserted. The scope is moved slowly forward into the rectum and lower
colon. During a sigmoidoscopy, puffs of air sometimes are blown through the
scope to open the colon so that your doctor can see more
- Suction may be used to remove watery stool, enema liquid,
mucus, or blood through the scope.
- Once your doctor has moved the
scope forward as far as possible, it is slowly withdrawn while tissue is
- Your doctor may also insert tiny instruments
(forceps, loops, swabs) through the scope to collect tissue samples (biopsy) or
to remove growths. Tissue samples may be sent to a laboratory for
See the following pictures:
After the scope is removed, your anal area will be cleaned
with tissues. If you are having cramps, passing gas may help relieve
The entire examination usually takes 5 to 15 minutes,
slightly longer if tissue samples are taken or if polyps are removed.
If you received a
sedative during the test, do not drive, operate
machinery, or sign legal documents for 24 hours after the test. Arrange to have
someone drive you home after the test.
After the test you may
resume your regular diet, unless your doctor gives you other directions. Be
sure to drink plenty of liquids to replace those you have lost during the
preparation for the sigmoidoscopy.