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Anoscopy, proctoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy tests allow your doctor to look at the inner lining of your anus, your rectum, and the lower part of the large intestine (colon). These tests are used to look for abnormal growths (such as tumors or polyps), inflammation, bleeding, hemorrhoids, and other conditions (such as diverticulosis).
These tests use different scopes look at different sections of the colon.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is one of many tests that may be used to screen for colon cancer. Which screening test you choose depends on your risk, your preference, and your doctor. Talk to your doctor about what puts you at risk and what test is best for you.
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These tests are done to:
Usually, no preparation is needed for an anoscopy.
Test preparation for a proctoscopy and sigmoidoscopy may be similar. Before the test:
The preparation for these tests usually involves a thorough cleaning of the lower colon, because it must be completely clear of stool (feces). Even a small amount of fecal material can affect the accuracy of the test.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for this test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
You will most likely lie on your left side during the test. You may also be asked to kneel on the table with your bottom raised in the air.
Once you are in position:
The entire examination usually takes 5 to 15 minutes, slightly longer if tissue samples are taken or if polyps are removed.
After the scope is removed, your anal area will be cleaned with tissues. If you are having cramps, passing gas may help relieve them.
If you received a sedative during the test, do not drive, operate machinery, or sign legal documents for 24 hours after the test. Arrange to have someone drive you home after the test.
After the test you may resume your regular diet, unless your doctor gives you other directions. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids to replace those you have lost during the preparation for the sigmoidoscopy.
An anoscopy, proctoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy examination can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. You may have cramping, a feeling of pressure or bloating, or feel a brief, sharp pain when the scope is moved forward or when air is blown into your colon. As the scope is moved up the colon, you may feel the need to have a bowel movement and pass gas. If you are having pain, tell your doctor.
The removal of tissue samples (biopsy) from the colon does not cause discomfort. A local anesthetic is used when a biopsy of the anal area is done. Your anus may be sore for a few days.
You may have mild gas pains and may need to pass some gas after the procedure. Walking may help relieve the gas pains.
If a biopsy was done or a polyp removed, you may have traces of blood in your stool for a few days.
There is very little risk of complications from having an anoscopy, proctoscopy, or sigmoidoscopy.
Call your doctor immediately if you have:
Your doctor should be able to discuss some of the findings with you immediately after the test. Lab results (such as from a biopsy) may take several days.
Some of the more common abnormal findings include:
Your doctor will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to your symptoms and past health.
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
Other Works Consulted
- Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2013). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 6th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
- Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology|
|Last Revised||December 7, 2011|
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