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Flexible sigmoidoscopy

A Procedure to look inside your rectum and lower colon

An endoscopic investigation that's used to help diagnose colorectal and bowel conditions

What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

If you've noticed changes in your bowel habits, or if you've experienced rectal bleeding you may be referred by your GP or consultant for a flexible sigmoidoscopy.

This procedure is where a fiberoptic tube, called a colonscope, is gently guided through your body to evaluate the lower part of the large intestine (colon). The fiberoptic tube contains a lens or camera that is flexible and that allows your consultant to move through and view the inside of your intestine.

Your consultant will be able to see the video feed of your bowel, and look for any problems in the lining of your bowel. A sigmoidoscopy cannot detect cancer, it allows the consultant to investigate your bowel.

Need to know

  • How to prepare for a sigmoidoscopy icon plus

    Let your consultant know if you're taking any medication. Like all procedures, there might be some risks and side effects. Your consultant will discuss these with you.

    You will usually be asked not to eat on the day before your examination. We will explain which liquids you can drink.  

    Before your sigmoidoscopy, you may be asked to take a liquid bowel preparation, this a laxative that you drink, you may also need to follow a special diet for a couple of days beforehand.

    Alternatively you may have an enema - which might be sent to you to do at home or you may have it when you get to the hospital.
  • During a sigmoidoscopy icon plus

    The endoscopy team and consultant will talk you through the procedure and you will have time to ask any questions.

    You will need to change into a gown for the procedure.

    You'll lie on a bed on your left side, with your knees tucked up to your chest.

    The procedure may be uncomfortable for some people and pain relief will be available should this be the case. Your consultant and the endoscopy team will be with you throughout and should you experience any pain the procedure will be paused. 

    During a sigmoidoscopy, photographs are taken of your bowel lining. If your consultant identifies any abnormal areas they will take tissue samples (biopsies). If you have any growths in the bowel lining (polyps), they can remove these during the procedure with a wire loop they put down the colonoscope. Any samples taken will be sent to a laboratory to be checked by a pathologist.

  • After your procedure icon plus

    After your examination you should arrange for someone to drive you home. You should be able to leave the hospital on the same day of your procedure.

    You might experience bloating or cramps in your abdomen for about an hour after the examination but you shouldn't feel any pain. If you do experience pain, bleeding or fever, tell your consultant immediately.

Our bowel consultants

We're proud to work with leading experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.
Consultant in theatres

Our locations

Across our network of hospitals, we have dedicated endoscopy suites with teams of experiences nurses to guide and support you through your tests, scans and procedures.

  • Hero-facility-LDH-group-579x579

    London Digestive Health

    2nd Floor

    41 Welbeck Street

    London W1G 8DU

    Call 020 7616 7642
    Opening hours Monday - Friday: 8.30am - 7pm

  • London Bridge Hospital

    London Bridge Hospital

    27 Tooley Street

    London

    SE1 2PR

    Appointments & Enquiries 020 7234 2009
    Imaging Appointments 020 7234 2773

  • The HSC exterior

    The Harley Street Clinic

    35 Weymouth Street

    London  W1G 8BJ

    Appointments 020 7935 7700
    General enquiries 020 7034 8181

  • The Princess Grace Hospital

    42-52 Nottingham Place

    London W1U 5NY

    Appointments 020 7908 8001
    General enquiries 020 7486 1234

  • The Wellington Hospital - South Building

    The Wellington Hospital

    Wellington Place

    London NW8 9LE

    Appointments 020 7483 5148
    General enquiries 020 7586 5959

  • The Princess Grace Hospital Facility

    The Endoscopy Centre

    42-52 Nottingham Place

    London

    W1U 5NY

    Call 020 7079 4344

  • London Digestive Health

    London Digestive Surgery

    41 Welbeck Street

    London

    W1G 8DU

    Call 020 3131 5319
    Opening hours Monday - Friday: 8am - 8pm
    All of our upper GI and colorectal consultant are at our Chiswick clinic on Saturdays

  • london-digestion-centre-london-bridge

    London Digestion

    HCA UK at The Shard

    32 St Thomas Street

    London SE1 9BS

    Appointments & enquiries 020 7403 3814

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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