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Sigmoidoscopy (Anoscopy, Proctoscopy)

How It Feels

An anoscopy, proctoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy examination can be uncomfortable. You may have cramping, a feeling of pressure or bloating, or feel a brief, sharp pain when the scope is moved forward or when air is blown into your colon. As the scope is moved up the colon, you may feel the need to have a bowel movement and pass gas. If you are having pain, tell your doctor.

The removal of tissue samples (biopsy) from the colon does not cause discomfort. A local anesthetic is used when a biopsy of the anal area is done. Your anus may be sore for a few days.

You may have mild gas pains and may need to pass some gas after the procedure. Walking may help relieve the gas pains.

If a biopsy was done or a polyp removed, you may have traces of blood in your stool for a few days.


There is very little risk of complications from having an anoscopy, proctoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy.

  • There is a slight chance of piercing the colon (perforation) or causing severe bleeding by damaging the wall of the colon. But these problems are rare.
  • There is also a slight chance of a colon infection (very rare).

Call your doctor immediately if you have:


Anoscopy, proctoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy tests allow your doctor to look at the inner lining of your anus and rectum and the lower part of the large intestine camera.gif (colon).

Your doctor should be able to discuss some of the findings with you immediately after the test. Lab results (such as from a biopsy) may take several days.

Anoscopy, proctoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy
  • The lining of the colon appears smooth and pink, with numerous folds.
  • No abnormal growths, pouches, bleeding, or inflammation is present.

Abnormal findings include:

  • Hemorrhoids, which are the most common cause of blood in the stool.
  • Colon polyps .
  • Cancer in the colon .
  • A sore (ulcer).
  • Pouches in the wall of the colon (diverticulosis).
  • Redness and swelling of the lining of the colon (colitis).

Your doctor will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to your symptoms and past health.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
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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