What is Proctosigmoidoscopy?

It is an exam that allows a physician to look inside the anusrectum, and the lower part of the large intestine (colon) for the following:

It can also remove small growths and collect tissue samples (biopsy) through a proctosigmoidoscope.

The proctosigmoidoscope may be a rigid or a flexible lighted tube.

  1.  Rigid proctosigmoidoscope

a. Measures about 10 inches to 12 inches long (25.4 cm to 30.48 cm) and 1 inch (2.54 cm) wide. 

b.   Allows the physician to look into the rectum and a portion of the lower large intestine (colon).

  1. Flexible proctosigmoidoscope
  • Measures about 0.5 inch (1.27 cm) wide and 2 feet (60.96 cm) long
  • It contains hundreds of light-conducting fibers attached to a lighted lens system.
  • Allows the physician to see around bends in the colon.
  • Allows a more total view of the lower colon
  • Makes the exam more comfortable than a rigid scope

How is it done?

  • You will be asked to take off your clothes below the waist and drape a hospital gown/blanket covering around your waist.
  • You will be asked to lie on your left side with your knees drawn up toward your chest.
  • Once you are in position, the physician will gently insert a gloved finger into your anus to check for tenderness or blockage.
  • The lubricated proctosigmoidoscope is then inserted into the anus and is moved slowly forward into the rectum and lower colon. At times, air is blown through the scope to open the colon and allow an improved view.
  • You may experience the urge to have a bowel movement while the scope is in your colon. Slowly inhale through your mouth to relax your abdominal muscles and relieve any anxiety.
  • Suction may be used to remove watery stool, enema liquid, mucus, or blood through the sigmoidoscope.
  • The entire exam as a rule takes 5 minutes. You are usually able to resume your usual diet and activities following the exam.
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