Sigmoidoscopy is a new and minimally invasive test that scans areas of the gastrointestinal tract from the rectum through the end of the colon. There are two types of sigmoidoscopy:

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Flexible sigmoidoscopy gives the image of the inside of the large intestine from the rectum through the end of the sigmoid colon. The Flexible sigmoidoscopy test can help diagnose the causes of diarrhea, abdominal pain, or constipation, colon polyps, and early signs of colon cancer.

While flexible sigmoidoscopy can show causes of hematochezia (bloody stools) like inflammation, abnormal growths, and ulcers in the descending colon and rectum, it is not always enough to detect polyps or cancer in the ascending or transverse colon (two-thirds of the colon). Yet this test is still effective because the parts of the colon that it can show are the areas of the colon most prone to developing serious problems.

During the procedure, the patient lies on a table and a tube (sigmoidoscope) is inserted into the anus and transmits images from inside the rectum and colon. If a doctor notices something unusual or harmful like a polyp or inflamed tissue, the doctor can remove those on the spot during the procedure.

If any tissue is removed during the procedure, it is sent for lab testing caled a biopsy.

Rigid Sigmoidoscopy

Rigid sigmoidoscopy used to be a more common treatment, but it is losing popularity because of newer, more effective and less invasive tests. Videocolonoscopy (flexible sigmoidoscopy) is the more preferred type of sigmoidoscopy test. Rigid sigmoidoscopy is currently still used to help diagnose ano-rectal diseases such as bleeding per rectum or inflammatory rectal disease.

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