What is a Sigmoidoscopy?

Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN
Last Modified: June 17, 2002

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
What is a Sigmoidoscopy?  

Answer

Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN, OncoLink's Clinical Trials Coordinator, responds:

A sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that utilizes a sigmoidoscope to examine the rectum and the first portion of the colon. It is important to note, this procedure does not evaluate the entire colon. The sigmoidoscope is a long, slender, flexible tube that contains a light and a camera. When inserted into the rectum, the bowel wall can be visualized with the camera, and projected onto a television screen that the doctor can see. In order to see the bowel wall, the patient must undergo a bowel preparation the day before the test. This may include a laxative, enema, and a clear liquid diet. The American Cancer Society recommends that people over 50 have this test every 5 years, or a colonoscope every 10 years.

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