Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure used to see inside your child's sigmoid colon and rectum, the last portions of the large intestine. If your child is experiencing abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, or rectal bleeding, your child's doctor may recommend a flexible sigmoidoscopy to detect inflammation, infection or polyps.

After your child is asleep (by sedation or general anesthesia), a colonoscope (a long, flexible tube with a light and tiny camera on one end) is inserted into your child’s rectum. This lets the doctor see the last portion of your child's large intestine. Small tissue samples (called biopsies) are collected. A laboratory will use these samples to help diagnose your child's condition.

Though similar to a colonoscopy, a flexible sigmoidoscopy differs in that the doctor is only examining a portion of the colon, not the entire structure. Because of this, a flexible sigmoidoscopy is typically a shorter procedure (5-10 minutes) than a colonoscopy (approximately 30 minutes). Your child’s doctor will tell you which test is preferred for your child’s condition.

This test is available at the following locations: CHOP’s Main Campus; and CHOP Care Network locations in Voorhees, NJ; Bucks County, PA; and Exton, PA.

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy prep instructions

    For your child’s safety, it is very important that you follow these instructions exactly. If you do not follow these instructions, your child’s procedure may be cancelled.

    If your child is NOT being sedated or receiving anesthesia:

    • Your child will receive a saline enema upon arrival
    • There are no restrictions in her diet or time when she needs to stop drinking

    If your child is being sedated or receiving anesthesia:

    • Your child will receive a saline enema upon arrival.
    • Your child may not have any solid food, formula, or dairy products after 11 p.m. the night before the procedure.
    • Babies under 12 months old may have breast milk until three hours before arrival at CHOP. If your child is older than 12 months old, please don't feed him or her breast milk after 11 p.m. the night before the procedure.
    • Your child can have clear liquid such as water, apple juice, and ginger ale until two hours before arrival time.

    If your child is younger than 2 years old: Your child will receive a pediatric saline enema.

    If your child is older than 2 years old: Your child will receive an adult saline enema.