What is a flex sigmoidoscopy?

A sigmoidoscopy is where a doctor passes a tube up a patient's bowel from the rectum. This is done to see if there is anything wrong with a person's bowel. The patient is usually asked to lie on their left side with their knees drawn up. During the sigmoidoscopy, the doctor will take samples to send to a laboratory for analysis.

The old sigmoidoscopes were made of stainless steel, and were quite uncomfortable for the patient. A flex sigmoidoscope is a smaller, bendy tube with a light and camera at the top end, and it uses fiberoptic technology.

The flex sigmoidoscopy is a much more comfortable procedure for the patient. Naturally enough, people don't like the experience, so the usual way of doing it is by the doctor giving the patient an injection of a relaxant - usually valium/diazepam - into a vein. This will bring on a relaxed, twighlight sleep. When the patient is relaxed, it is much easier for the doctor to do the procedure, so it is quicker.

After a sigmoidoscopy and twilight sleep, the patient should not drive for 24 hours at least, and a friend or family member should be with them until they are recovered.