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020 7118 0212

Mrs Sara Badvie
MB BS (Hons) BSc (Hons) MS FRCS (Gen.Surg)
Female Colorectal & General Surgeon in London
Colorectal Clinical Lead, London Surgical Skills Programme, Imperial College
Covid-19 update: private outpatient appointments are now available at some of my locations - please click on the booking button. Thank you for your understanding whilst I have been supporting the NHS and working at the Nightingale Hospital.

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is an examination of the rectum and left side of the bowel. It is performed using a long, thin flexible tube with a camera at the tip, which projects an image onto a television screen. The tube is passed through the anus and can examine the bowel wall. Any abnormality will be seen and biopsies (tissue samples) can be taken. Polyps (tissue overgrowths) may also be removed.

Is it painful?

The test can be uncomfortable as a small amount of gas is passed through the tube and used to open the bowel wall. This, coupled with the passing of the camera, may lead to a sensation of stretch and abdominal bloating, but is not painful. As the test is limited to the left side of the bowel, it is a shorter procedure than a full colonoscopy and causes less stretch, and so is not usually performed under any medication. However, sedative medication to make you drowsy can be provided on request, if preferred. 

If a sedative is given, you must be collected after the test by a responsible adult, who should then stay with you overnight. You should not drive, operate machinery, drink alcohol or return to work until 24 hours have passed following the sedation.

Do I need to stay overnight?

The test is usually performed as a day procedure, and you will be able to go home the same day.

Do I need to prepare my bowel before the test?

Unlike a colonoscopy, full bowel preparation is not usually required for a flexible sigmoidoscopy. After you have arrived in the endoscopy department on the day of the test, you will be given an enema to empty the lower bowel, and this is usually sufficient.

What happens after the test?

Mrs Badvie will explain the findings to you at the end of the test. You and your GP will receive a copy of the endoscopy report. Subsequent management will be tailored to your individual case.

For more information on flexible sigmoidoscopy, or if you have any concerns about your flexible sigmoidoscopy, please contact us on or call 020 7118 0212.