Our COVID-19 measures remain in place. Feel safe at Sussex Premier Health hospitals. Read our Covid-19 Policy here

Flexible sigmoidoscopy

An investigation of your rectum and the lower part of the bowel to find out what is causing symptoms such as changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea) or bleeding from your back passage.

A flexible sigmoidoscopy may be recommended also used to check the bowel if you have symptoms such a change in bowel habits (diarrhoea) or bleeding from your back passage.

It can also be used for inflammation anal fistula anal discharge early signs of cancer and polyps.

Why us

  • Fast access to treatment when you need it
  • Internationally and nationally renowned consultants
  • Clear, inclusive pricing
Typical Hospital Stay

Day case

Type of anaesthetic


Covered by health insurance?


Procedure duration

10 minutes

Available to self-pay?




Find a consultant at Sussex Premier Health

Dr Phillip Mayhead

Consultant Gastroenterologist

Dr David Neal

Consultant Gastroenterologist

Mr Raj Harshen

Consultant Laparoscopic, Colorectal and General Surgeon

Your initial consultation

At Sussex Premier Health, you will have a formal consultation with a consultant who specialises in this area. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.

Your consultant may examine your abdomen and back passage. You will be offered a Chaperone at at this time.

We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.

Your initial consultation at Sussex Premier Health will be with one of our expert Cosmetic Surgeons.

The procedure

The procedure usually takes up to 10 minutes. It will feel uncomfortable but shouldn’t be painful.

While you’re resting on your side your doctor will gently examine your back passage with a gloved finger before carefully inserting the sigmoidoscope. Lubricating jelly will be used to make this as easy as possible.

Air is then usually pumped through the tube into your lower bowel to make it expand and the bowel wall easier to see. This may cause stomach cramps and you may get an urge to go to the toilet or pass wind.

A camera lens at the end of the sigmoidoscope sends pictures from the inside of your bowel to a TV screen. Your doctor will look at these images.

During the procedure you may be asked to change your position for example turning from your side onto your back. This helps your doctor to examine different areas of the bowel more easily.

Your doctor may take one or more biopsies (samples of tissue) for examination in a laboratory using special instruments passed inside the sigmoidoscope. If necessary, it’s possible to remove polyps during the procedure.


A flexible sigmoidoscopy is routinely done as an out-patient or day care procedure, so you won’t need to stay in hospital overnight.

After the procedure you may feel bloated and have stomach cramps but these usually clear up quickly.You may also have a little blood in your faeces.

Before you go home your doctor may explain if they found anything inside your bowel during the procedure. If you have had a biopsy or polyps removed the results will be ready in a few days.

You may be given a date for a follow-up appointment or the results will be sent to the doctor who requested your flexible sigmoidoscopy and they will discuss them with you.

Your consultant who you saw at your initial consultation.

Our consultants have high standards to meet often holding specialist NHS posts and delivering expertise in complex sub-specialty surgeries.

Many of our consultants have international reputations for their research in their specialised field.

Your consultant will explain the preparation at your consultation.

You will have a pre-assessment with our dedicated gastroenterology nurse, who will discuss any medications you are taking and also discuss starving instructions and bowel prep.


On rare occasions complications following a flexible sigmoidoscopy can occur.

Please contact us as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • bleeding
  • continuing abdominal pain
  • bloating

These can be signs that there is damage or in very rare cases that the lower bowel or rectum has been perforated during the procedure.

Occasionally a sigmoidoscopy is not completed successfully and may need to be repeated.

Your consultant will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.

If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to us, we’re here to help.

Interested in finding out more?

Speak to a member of our team

Phone01424 757400

Enquiry form

DD slash MM slash YYYY

Marketing Information
Sussex Premier Health would like to provide you with marketing information about products and services offered by Sussex Premier Health and by selected third-party partners. If you do not consent for us to process your personal data for marketing activities, we will still be able to contact you about your enquiry.
Please tick the box(es) to confirm your consent to receive marketing information from Sussex Premier Health:

Section Break


We may contact you by email, SMS or phone about your enquiry. If we try to contact you by phone (mobile and/or landline) and you are not available, we may leave you a voicemail message. We may also use your details to contact you about patient surveys we use for improving our service or monitoring outcomes, which are not a form of marketing.

Section Break