Flexible Sigmoidoscopy in Denver, CO
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What exactly is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is an endoscopic exam where a long, thin, flexible pipe, or “scope,” is positioned into the rectum and then progressed throughout the lower third of the large intestine. As indicated, the procedure has some limitations in that not all of the colon will be seen. The pipe is equipped with a camera and a light on its end which grants the ability to the doctor to examine the colon's lining. A sigmoidoscopy could be performed to:
- Get to the root of gastrointestinal symptoms such as:
- Painful abdomen
- Unusual x-ray results
- As a screening tool for colon cancer and polyps.
Our experienced providers commonly perform flexible sigmoidoscopies for Denver, CO patients. If you are suffering from any troubling symptoms in relation to your digestive tract like those listed above, consult with Colorado Gastroenterology to learn if a flexible sigmoidoscopy might be of benefit to you.
What can I expect the day before my flexible sigmoidoscopy?
You will be given instructions from your doctor regarding the necessary bowel preparation to perform in advance of the exam. Most patients will be on clear liquids all day, the day prior to the procedure. There are many different options for laxatives to cleanse the colon. It is imperative that you adhere to the directions given to you by your Colorado Gastroenterology gastroenterologist. In addition, there will be directions regarding your medications. In most cases, your medications may be continued as usual. However, occasionally, especially in patients on blood thinners (i.e. Coumadin®, warfarin, Plavix®, aspirin, anti-inflammatories) and in those with diabetes, special direction will be given. You will be instructed not to take anything orally after midnight with an exception for some medications.
What should I expect on the day of my flexible sigmoidoscopy?
Plan to be directed to arrive at the endoscopy center 1 to 1.5 hours prior to your flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure. This is to allow you adequate time to complete paperwork and prep for the procedure. You'll be told to don a medical gown. The majority of the time, no IV will be started since, usually, sedation is not given with this procedure. You could be connected to equipment that will allow the staff and provider to watch your heart rate, blood pressure, pulse, electrocardiogram, breathing, and oxygen level during and following the procedure.
Once in the exam room, you will be directed to lie down on your left side on the bed. The physician will perform a rectal exam. The sigmoidoscope will then be carefully placed into the rectum. The scope will then be gently advanced through the sigmoid colon. A tiny amount of air is injected by way of the tube into the colon to help the physician see. Any fluid still in the colon after the preparation can be washed and suctioned out through the scope. Depending on the results of the test, a few complications can be performed at the time of the exam including removal of polyps, control of bleeding, and biopsies. At the end of the procedure, all possible remaining fluid and air are suctioned out of the colon by way of the scope. Depending on the findings, the procedure takes approximately 5 – 15 minutes to complete.
Since anesthesia is not usually needed after the procedure is complete the patient is told to change back into their clothes and is released from the endoscopy center. If sedation is not needed, you'll be allowed to perform your normal activities as well as drive. Most people are free to drink and eat normally following their discharge from the endoscopy center, however, individualized guidelines related to activity, eating, and medications will be provided to the patient in advance of discharge. Following the exam, the nurse and/or doctor will review the results of the exam with you. You will also be sent home with a typed report. You will be made aware of any results from biopsies in 7 days or less.
What are the risks of a flexible sigmoidoscopy?
In most cases, sigmoidoscopy is quite a safe procedure. All in all, negative side effects are seen in fewer than 1% of cases. Most of the time, complications are not serious, however, in the event of a complication, it could need hospitalization and surgery. In advance of the exam, a consent form will be discussed with the patient by the staff. In the case that any questions or concerns come up, these can be discussed with your specialist ahead of the exam.
Bleeding could happen with the removal of polyps and biopsies. To reiterate, significant bleeding which might require a blood transfusion or hospitalization is highly uncommon. However, bleeding may occur at the time of the procedure or up to two weeks post exam if a polyp is extracted.
Perforation or puncture of the large intestine may take place. This can be noticed at the time of the exam, or it might not be apparent until a short time later. In most cases, a perforation will necessitate hospitalization and surgery. This is an uncommon complication, even in the event that polyps are removed. It is highly important that the patient reach out to the physician's office right away if symptoms arise after the exam such as increasing abdominal pain, bleeding, or fever.
As with any other procedure, a sigmoidoscopy is not always without error. There is a small, accepted risk that abnormal tissues including cancer and polyps can be missed at the time of the procedure. It is crucial to remain vigilant and to maintain check-ups with your physicians as instructed and inform them of any new or recurring symptoms. Please discuss it with your Colorado Gastroenterology provider should you think of any questions or concerns.
What are the alternatives to a flexible sigmoidoscopy?
To a large degree, any alternatives to this procedure will be dependent upon the reason for needing to undergo the sigmoidoscopy to start with. There exist a number of x-rays which can evaluate the colon including a virtual CT scan or a barium enema. These methods are however only diagnostic exams. Treatment of any suspected anomalies will require colonoscopy, surgery, or sigmoidoscopy. To learn more regarding flexible sigmoidoscopy in Denver, CO or about any alternatives for treating and diagnosing your condition, we encourage you to connect with our gastroenterology team.
Advanced testing and diagnosis
A flexible sigmoidoscopy might help identify the root cause of troubling GI symptoms such as diarrhea, bleeding, and abdominal pain. Should you begin experiencing any of these symptoms, consult with an expert GI doctor at your earliest convenience. You can connect with a local GI specialist through Colorado Gastroenterology. Our organization works to give you the utmost in patient-centered care and clinical standards. To arrange for your flexible sigmoidoscopy in Denver, CO, or any other endoscopic test, contact with our staff now.
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Dr rufner after our consultation was great covered all kinds of useful info about what could potentially be the issue with my stomach.