What is a sigmoidoscopy?

Your colon helps your body absorb water and nutrients from the food you eat. It’s also where your stool is formed. The last third of your descending colon is called the sigmoid colon. It’s connected to your anus by your rectum.

A colonoscopy helps doctors examine the entire colon. But sometimes only the sigmoid colon warrants close inspection. That’s when a doctor will recommend a sigmoidoscopy.

A sigmoidoscopy, also called a flexible sigmoidoscopy, is a procedure that lets your doctor look inside your sigmoid colon by using a flexible tube with a light on it. It helps your doctor check for:

  • ulcers
  • abnormal cells
  • polyps
  • cancer

Typically, pieces of tissue will be taken as samples to check for any abnormal cell changes.

When is a sigmoidoscopy performed?

You should tell your doctor if you notice:

  • changes in your bowel habits
  • rectal bleeding
  • abdominal pain
  • unexplained weight loss

These can be signs of various colon diseases, and a sigmoidoscopy might be the procedure to help determine the cause of your symptoms. A sigmoidoscopy is also a general screening tool for colon cancer.