A Sigmoidoscopy is a minimally invasive medical exam of the lower portion of the Colon, known as the Sigmoid.  There are two exam types, flexible or rigid.

The flexible Sigmoidoscopy uses a relatively short tube of about 20 inches which is inserted into the rectum and gently guided up the colon.  The tube, which uses a lit endoscope, enables the physician to make a visual inspection and take photographs.  The scope also blows air slightly distending the organ, allowing the doctor the ability for a better and clearer view.The Sigmoidoscopy is typically used to determine the cause of constipation, diarrhea or abdominal pain.  It is also able to detect polyps, growths and inflamed tissue, as well as early signs of Cancer.  In fact, a physician can perform a biopsy using the scope which usually takes about 20 minutes.

The scope is only effective in a small section of the large intestine, an area where colorectal cancer is regularly detected.  The Sigmoidoscopy cannot detect polyps or cancer in the upper, ascending or transverse colon that is approximately two thirds of the colon.  Prior to the procedure the intestines, colon and rectum must be completely clean.  However uncommon, it is possible for bleeding or a puncture of the colon to occur during the procedure.

The rigid Sigmoidoscopy is no longer as popular as it once was.  Nevertheless, it may be useful in detecting ano-rectal diseases such as inflammatory rectal disease.

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