A rigid sigmoidoscopy is camera test used in clinic to examine your rectum or lower bowel when referred with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
This is a useful tool to look for any evidence of colitis (inflamed colon) that can sometimes mimic IBS.
Other pathologies such as polyps or even cancer can also be observed too.
Remember, this test only looks at the rectum, so your doctor may advise more extensive examination of your bowel.
The instrument comprises of a hollow tube (either plastic or metal, usually about 25cms long with an inner tube for insertion through the anus (back passage).
It has a light source to illuminate the rectum and a pump to inflate it with air.
To perform the test, you will be asked to lay on your left hand side in the 'fetal' position (legs bent into your tummy).
The tube is lubricated with a jelly and passed through the back passage (anus) into the rectum.
Air is then introduced to inflate the rectum.
The test can be a little bit uncomfortable and may give you a feeling of wanting to open your bowels as it stretches the bowel wall.
The rectal wall has nerves in it that normally fire off impulses to the brain when you need to go to the toilet.
Biopsies or samples of tissue can be taken for analysis .
The test is very safe although you may get a bit of bleeding especially when biopsies have been taken.
Fortunately, it is rare for the bleeding to be heavy or to cause any perforation (punching a hole in the lining).
This examination has the advantage that a diagnosis can normally be made, pretty much immediately, when you are seen in the clinic. The test is often done without any specific preparation, although some doctors may advise a suppository or enema beforehand.
Any biopsies will need to be sent to the laboratory for analysis so the diagnosis maybe delay a diagnosis for a time.
This test is useful when the history is suggestive of Irritable Bowel Syndrome as it helps to exclude other causes as well as making other diagnoses.