This is an examination of the lower part of the bowel with an instrument called a sigmoidoscope. It may be rigid or flexible (the latter is performed in the Endoscopy Department of the hospital, or in some centres this may be performed in the clinic).

Rigid sigmoidoscopy is usually performed in the Out-Patient Department of the hospital. It is not usually painful, but may be a little uncomfortable.

You will be asked to lie on your left side, with your back positioned horizontally across the couch, bottom towards the edge, and knees slightly bent.

After the doctor has examined the rectum with his finger, the lubricated tube is slid inside the anus, a little air is pumped in to inflate the bowel and the tube is advanced up to the sigmoid part of the colon. The doctor can inspect the tissue as the instrument has a light on the end, and take samples to send to the laboratory for examination under the microscope.

You may have a feeling of wanting to have a bowel movement during the procedure but this is only due to pressure from the air and the presence of the tube in the bowel.

At the end of the procedure, the nurse will give you some tissues to wipe away the excess jelly before you dress.

Sometimes a little bleeding occurs following a biopsy and for the next 24 hours you may notice blood in the motions.

If heavier bleeding occurs or if you pass clots from the back passage, you should see your own doctor as soon as possible for further advice.