We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Proctosigmoidoscopy?

By Dorothy Distefano
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A proctosigmoidoscopy is a procedure for examination of the anus, rectum, and distal sigmoid colon. It may involve the use of a proctoscope, sigmoidoscope, or colonoscope. These instruments all provide visual examination of the intestine, as well as the ability to obtain tissue samples for biopsy.

The large intestine, or colon, is approximately 5 feet (1.5 m) long. It begins on the right side of the abdomen as the ascending colon. This portion of the colon extends from the cecum to the hepatic flexure. The transverse colon then proceeds across the abdomen from the hepatic flexure to the splenic flexure. At this point, the descending colon goes down the left side of the abdomen, to the S-shaped sigmoid colon, rectum, and anus.

The sigmoid colon is the portion of the colon where stool may be stored until it is passed into the rectum. The rectum is usually about 4.7 inches (12 cm) long, and ends at the anus. Stool may be temporarily stored in the rectum until defecation.

Proctosigmoidoscopy may be recommended if someone is experiencing changes in bowel habits, blood or mucus in stools, abdominal pain, or severe itching, known as pruritis. This type of examination may be suggested for those who have a family history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), cancer, or other digestive tract diseases. Other symptoms that may prompt a physician to perform a proctosigmoidoscopy include previous occurrences of polyps, unusual flatulence, or urinary tract issues.

In preparation for the procedure, a patient will be likely be given directions for a bowel cleansing. Individual physician’s preparation instructions will vary, but may include a laxative product and clear liquid diet for several hours prior to the procedure, as well as an enema. The sigmoid colon must be free of stool so that the area may be examined thoroughly.

The instrument used for proctosigmoidoscopy is usually a sigmoidoscope, though proctoscopes and colonoscopes may be used as well. Generally, the flexible scope is preferred to the rigid model for comfort reasons. The chosen scope will likely have a light, camera, bellows, and a biopsy instrument.

During proctosigmoidoscopy, the doctor may use the bellows to blow air into the bowel. This inflates the area so that all areas may be properly visualized with the camera apparatus. If a polyp or other unusual lesion is observed, the biopsy instrument may be inserted through the scope to remove a sample of the tissue for lab analysis.

As with any medical procedure, there are risks to proctosigmoidoscopy. There is a rare chance of perforation of the bowel wall with the scope. If this occurs, surgery may be necessary to repair the torn tissue.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By SimpleByte — On Feb 14, 2014

@Nefertini, preparing for a colonoscopy involves cleaning out the colon. Your doctor will likely want you to consume a liquid diet the day before your procedure and eat only things like broth and gelatin. You will also have to take a laxative. Many doctors prescribe a powder that you mix with water and drink, but some prescribe a pill form. Expect to spend the day before your colonoscopy in the bathroom cleaning out your bowels as these laxatives start working right away, but it is a necessary process to go through so your doctor can get a clear view of your bowel during your test.

By Nefertini — On Feb 13, 2014

I have to have one of these tests. What does preparing for a colonoscopy involve?

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.