Anoscopy, proctoscopy, and
sigmoidoscopy tests allow your doctor to look at the inner lining of your
rectum, and the lower part of the
large intestine (colon). These tests are used to look for abnormal growths
(such as tumors or
polyps), inflammation, bleeding,
hemorrhoids, and other conditions (such as
These tests use different
scopes look at different sections of the colon.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is one of many tests that may be used to screen for colon cancer. Which screening test you choose depends on your risk, your preference, and your doctor. Talk to your doctor about what puts you at risk and what test is best for you.
information on screening tests for colon cancer, see:
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These tests are done to:
Usually, no preparation is needed for an
Test preparation for
a proctoscopy and
sigmoidoscopy may be similar. Before the test:
The preparation for these tests usually involves a
thorough cleaning of the lower colon, because it must be completely clear of
stool (feces). Even a small amount of fecal material can affect the accuracy of
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have
regarding the need for this test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the
results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
You will most likely lie on your left side
during the test. You may also be asked to kneel on the table with your bottom
raised in the air.
Once you are in position:
See the following pictures:
After the scope is removed, your anal area will be cleaned
with tissues. If you are having cramps, passing gas may help relieve
The entire examination usually takes 5 to 15 minutes,
slightly longer if tissue samples are taken or if polyps are removed.
If you received a
sedative during the test, do not drive, operate
machinery, or sign legal documents for 24 hours after the test. Arrange to have
someone drive you home after the test.
After the test you may
resume your regular diet, unless your doctor gives you other directions. Be
sure to drink plenty of liquids to replace those you have lost during the
preparation for the sigmoidoscopy.
An anoscopy, proctoscopy, and
sigmoidoscopy examination can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. You may have
cramping, a feeling of pressure or bloating, or feel a brief, sharp pain when
the scope is moved forward or when air is blown into your colon. As the scope
is moved up the colon, you may feel the need to have a bowel movement and pass
gas. If you are having pain, tell your doctor.
The removal of
tissue samples (biopsy) from the colon does not cause discomfort. A
local anesthetic is used when a biopsy of the anal
area is done. Your anus may be sore for a few days.
You may have
mild gas pains and may need to pass some gas after the procedure. Walking may
help relieve the gas pains.
If a biopsy was done or a polyp
removed, you may have traces of blood in your stool for a few days.
There is very little risk of complications from
having an anoscopy, proctoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy.
Call your doctor immediately if you have:
Anoscopy, proctoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy
tests allow your doctor to look at the inner lining of your
rectum, and the lower part of the
large intestine (colon).
Your doctor should be able to discuss
some of the findings with you immediately after the test. Lab results (such as
from a biopsy) may take several days.
Some of the more common abnormal findings
Your doctor will discuss any
significant abnormal results with you in relation to your symptoms and past
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
For more information on screening tests for colon cancer,
Other Works ConsultedChernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis:
Saunders.Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009).
Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
December 7, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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