Understanding Flexible


Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a diagnostic procedure commonly used in gastroenterology to visualize the lower part of the colon, specifically the sigmoid colon and rectum. This minimally invasive examination involves the use of a flexible sigmoidoscope, a thin, flexible tube equipped with a light and a camera, which is inserted into the rectum to assess the health of the lower gastrointestinal tract. Understanding flexible sigmoidoscopy is essential for both healthcare professionals and patients, as it plays a crucial role in the diagnosis, screening, and monitoring of various colorectal conditions.

Procedure Overview

> Flexible sigmoidoscopy employs a flexible sigmoidoscope, a tube approximately 60 centimeters long and 1.3 centimeters in diameter. The instrument is inserted through the anus and advanced into the rectum and sigmoid colon.

Visual Inspection:
> The sigmoidoscope is equipped with a light source and a camera, allowing the gastroenterologist to visually inspect the walls of the rectum and sigmoid colon in real-time.

> Flexible sigmoidoscopy is often performed to investigate symptoms such as rectal bleeding, changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, or as part of routine colorectal cancer screening.

Diagnostic and Screening Capabilities:
> Beyond diagnostic purposes, flexible sigmoidoscopy is utilized for routine colorectal cancer screening, enabling the detection of polyps or early-stage cancers. 

Limited Depth of Examination:
 > Unlike a colonoscopy, which examines the entire colon, flexible sigmoidoscopy focuses on the lower portion, typically reaching up to the sigmoid colon. This procedure is less invasive and may be preferred in certain clinical scenarios.

Patient Preparation:
> Preparation for flexible sigmoidoscopy is generally less intensive compared to colonoscopy. It may involve a mild bowel preparation, which could include dietary modifications or a laxative to cleanse the lower part of the colon.

Local Anesthesia:
> While sedation is not usually required, a local anesthetic gel may be applied to minimize discomfort during the insertion of the sigmoidoscope.

Common Indications for Flexible Sigmoidoscopy:

1.Rectal Bleeding

> Investigation of rectal bleeding is one of the primary indications for flexible sigmoidoscopy. It helps identify the source of bleeding, such as hemorrhoids, polyps, or inflammation.

2. Changes in Bowel Habits

> Persistent changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation, may warrant a flexible sigmoidoscopy to assess the condition of the sigmoid colon and rectum.

3. Abdominal Pain

> Unexplained abdominal pain localized in the lower abdomen may be explored through flexible sigmoidoscopy to rule out conditions affecting the sigmoid colon.

4. Colorectal Cancer Screening

> Flexible sigmoidoscopy is utilized as a screening tool for colorectal cancer, particularly in situations where a full colonoscopy may not be necessary or feasible.

5. Polyp Detection

> The procedure allows for the identification and removal of polyps in the sigmoid colon, reducing the risk of colorectal cancer development.

Benefits of Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure, offering a diagnostic option with a lower risk of complications compared to more extensive examinations like colonoscopy.
  • The procedure is relatively quick, typically lasting around 15-20 minutes, making it a convenient option for both patients and healthcare providers.
  • Bowel preparation for flexible sigmoidoscopy is generally less intensive than that required for a full colonoscopy, contributing to improved patient acceptance.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy serves as an effective tool for colorectal cancer screening, particularly in situations where a complete colonoscopy may not be indicated.


Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a valuable diagnostic and screening tool that provides insight into the health of the lower gastrointestinal tract, focusing on the sigmoid colon and rectum. Understanding flexible sigmoidoscopy is crucial for healthcare professionals and patients alike, as it offers a less invasive option for investigating various colorectal conditions. With its quick procedure time, lower risk of complications, and effectiveness in colorectal cancer screening, flexible sigmoidoscopy plays a vital role in the early detection and management of colorectal disorders. As part of comprehensive colorectal health strategies, flexible sigmoidoscopy contributes to improved patient outcomes and the prevention of colorectal cancer.