Please read as soon as appointment is received.

This information has been written to enable you to make an informed decision when you are asked to give consent to the procedure / investigation.

A sigmoidoscopy is an examination of the lower bowel.  It is carried out with an instrument called a sigmoidoscope.  This is a narrow, flexible tube with a light and a camera in its tip. This allows the endoscopist to view the lower portion of the bowel. This procedure is usually performed when people have symptoms such as rectal bleeding or a change of bowel habits.

Diet before the examination: There are no restrictions on food or fluids. However, it is advisable NOT to have a heavy meal before your examination.

You will be sent an enema to use to clear your lower bowel two hours before the appointment.

The enema is given by removing the orange cap and inserting a small plastic tube into the back passage and gently squeezing just over 100mls of fluid into your rectum. This fluid needs to be kept in for two to five minutes before going to the toilet and letting it go. This is necessary to clear out the contents of your lower bowel to enable the endoscopist to see the lining clearly.

Follow the instructions supplied with the enema. You may wish to place a towel on the bed.

Side effects of the enema: You may experience stomach cramps, dizziness or feel clammy.

  • If you are taking iron tablets,  stop these five days before the  examination. If you are taking any  medication for constipation, please  stop taking this for two to three  days before the examination
  • If you are taking medication to  stop your blood clotting e.g.  warfarin, clopidogrel, dabigatran,  please contact us when you receive your appointment
  • All other medication should be taken as prescribed
  • Please bring a list of your medications with you

You will be shown where you can change into a hospital gown. It is a good idea to bring dressing gown and slippers as you will need to make several trips to the toilet.

You will be given a chair to rest on. You may want to bring a book or something to read.

Please leave valuables at home.

Remember, your appointment time is not the time of your examination
We need to complete admission paperwork and prepare you for the procedure. We also look after emergencies and these take priority on our lists.

Your details will be taken and checked by our receptionist. A nurse will show you to a cubicle and provide a basket for your clothes and belongings which will remain with you throughout your stay. You will be asked to put on one of our gowns.

When you are ready, a nurse will ask you some questions about your health.


A doctor or nurse will come and explain the examination and answer any questions you may have.

At Yeovil Hospital we do teach endoscopy trainees, who work under the supervision of a senior clinician.  Please let us know if you have any questions about this.


Complications from biopsy (taking a small tissue sample) are rare. This will be discussed before you sign the consent form.

How long does it take?

The examination takes ten to 15 minutes and sedation is  not usually necessary but inhaled sedation (gas and air) is available if the examination is too uncomfortable.

You will be made comfortable, resting on your left side. A nurse will stay with you throughout the examination.

The tube is inserted into your back passage, guided along the bowel whilst air or carbon dioxide (which causes less discomfort) is introduced to make the lining visible. This may give some wind discomfort and the sensation that you want to go to the toilet. You can however relax as your lower bowel should be empty.

The endoscopist may take tissue samples or remove any small polyps during the procedure. The endoscopist will be able to tell you what could be seen at the time of the examination.

You will be taken back to the ward and given a drink. After a short rest, you can dress and go home. However, you must wait for your discharge paperwork.

You are unlikely to experience problems other than mild bloating after your flexible sigmoidoscopy, but if you suffer severe abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, chills or rectal bleeding of more than half a cup, seek medical advice.

If any polyps are removed or any biopsies taken, you may notice a small amount of blood when you next pass a motion.

You are advised not to travel by air within two weeks of your procedure, particularly if you have had polyps removed.

The results of any tissue samples will be available at a follow-up appointment or at your GP surgery in about two weeks.

If a follow up appointment is necessary, it will be sent to you.

Should I take my usual medication?

Most types of medication should be taken as normal. Aspirin can be continued, but if you take any other medication to stop the blood clotting, please ask us.  We can advise you when to restart any medication when you come for your test.  If in any doubt, do ask.

When can I go back to work?

You may return to work when you feel fit enough to do so. You may feel a little bloated and windy for a few hours after the procedure.

Will I be told any results after the procedure?

The endoscopist will speak to you after the procedure and explain any results to you. We will discuss the follow-up plan of care. We will give you a copy of your endoscopy report and a patient care report to explain any findings and give you advice for the next 24 hours.

In order to preserve patients’ privacy and dignity, and to comply with Department of Health standards, the Endoscopy / Day Surgery Unit is unable to accommodate the relatives and friends of patients attending the department.

Please leave a telephone number for your named contact and a member of the team will ring them when you are ready to leave the department.

If they wish to wait for you in the hospital building, there are two coffee shops on Level 3 (Ground Floor) and “The Canteen” restaurant is located on Level 2.

In certain circumstances, exceptions may be made if considered to be in the patient’s best interests. Please contact the Unit Sister on 01935 384 339 if you require further advice.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Day Surgery Unit
01935 384 339

Endoscopy admissions office
01935 384793

If you find you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Day Surgery Unit or you can speak to the nurse or doctor on the day.

Review: 01/20
Ref: 17-18-107