What Is Proctoscopy?

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD on November 30, 2022
2 min read

When you get a proctoscopy, a doctor uses a special metal or plastic scope, called a proctoscope, to check the inside of your rectum. The rectum is the 8-inch muscular tube that connects your large intestine (colon) to the anus, the opening of the intestine that leads out of the body.

There are several reasons. Your doctor may need to look for diseases of the rectum or anus, to check on abnormal results of a barium enema, or to look for causes of rectal bleeding.

You may also get proctoscopy to track the growth of polyps (benign growths on the lining of the intestine) or to check for a return of rectal cancer if you’ve already had surgery for cancer.

Before you get a proctoscopy, your doctor will usually ask you to use an enema (medication inserted into the rectum in order to cleanse the bowel) the night before the procedure. Ask for specific instructions.

Or you may get an enema in the doctor’s office just before the test.

You’ll probably get a proctoscopy in your doctor's office. You will remove your clothing below the waist and lie on your side on a table.

The doctor will insert a gloved finger into your anus to check for tenderness or blockage.

The doctor will then insert a lubricated proctoscope into your rectum and pump air in to expand the rectum. You may feel some fullness, like you need to pass a stool.

Your doctor also may use special tools to remove growths or to take a sample of tissue -- called a biopsy -- for further testing.

When the exam is over, your doctor will gently withdraw the scope.

Most people don’t need anesthesia for this procedure. You may feel some pressure or cramping while the scope is in place. But you should not feel any pain.

It’s not unusual to feel and hear some air escaping during this procedure. This is normal and expected, so don’t be embarrassed.

If you continue to have cramps after the procedure, passing gas may help. Walking around the room after the test may help you to pass the gas. The proctoscopy test usually takes from 5 to 15 minutes.