Flexible Sigmoidoscopy for Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are the blood vessels that line the area inside and around the anal cavity. The term hemorrhoids is also used to describe a condition that occurs when the hemorrhoidal tissue becomes swollen and inflamed, causing itching, discomfort, bleeding, or pain. Although hemorrhoids often resolve on their own, an internal exam known as a flexible sigmoidoscopy may be done to rule out other serious medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

During a flexible sigmoidoscopy, a thin, flexible tube with a tiny video camera at the end of it is inserted into the rectum. The tube, known as a sigmoidoscope, allows a doctor to see the inside of the rectum and the sigmoid colon, the lowest part of the large intestine. During a flexible sigmoidoscopy, an additional instrument can be placed inside the tube to take tissue samples if necessary.

A flexible sigmoidoscopy takes about 15 minutes and is performed in a doctor’s office. It does not usually require anesthesia or pain medications. Before the procedure, you’ll be given instructions to clean your colon, a process that may include dietary changes, laxatives, and an enema. Immediately following the exam, you may feel some bloating or discomfort, but this should be resolved as soon as you walk around. Most people can return to their normal activities and diet immediately following a flexible sigmoidoscopy.

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a safe, painless procedure that can help your doctor determine the underlying cause of rectal bleeding, discomfort or pain. The exam can confirm a diagnosis of hemorrhoids and rule out more serious medical conditions.