Sigmoidoscopy Versus Colonoscopy

Last Modified: March 16, 2011

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Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Is a sigmoidoscopy the same as colonoscopy? If not, which is better?


David Metz, MD, Professor of Gastroenterology at Penn Medicine, responds:

A colonoscopy examines the entire colon from the rectum to the cecum including the rectum, sigmoid colon, descending colon transverse colon, ascending colon and cecum. A sigmoidoscopy is a partial colonoscopy that only examines the left side from the rectum to the sigmoid colon. Colonoscopy usually requires sedation and an oral lavage or preparation is needed but it allows a complete evaluation. Sigmoidoscopy can be done without sedation, only requires enemas for preparation but is limited in its extent. I personally favor a full colonoscopy for screening.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. See the full transcript of Advances in Colorectal Cancer Screening.

DDW: Patients Prefer Colonoscopy to CT Colonography

May 23, 2012 - Patients undergoing screening for colorectal cancer tend to prefer colonoscopy versus computed tomography colonography; and for those undergoing colonoscopy, the tolerability of bowel preparation is associated with improved polyp and adenoma detection, according to two studies presented at the annual Digestive Disease Week, held from May 19 to 22 in San Diego.

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