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Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Thank you for choosing Tufts Medical Center's GI Motility Service. We have provided the below instructions to ensure that your time in our care is as pleasant and safe as possible. Please read all instructions carefully before your flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure as these directions are critical to your health and safety.

The procedure and what to expect

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is an examination of the rectum and the sigmoid colon using a lighted tube. The tube is inserted into the rectum and advanced into the sigmoid colon. It will not be necessary to give you an intravenous line or any sedative or pain medications for this procedure. However, if this is a flexible sigmoidoscopy ultrasound you will be given sedatives: PLEASE ARRANGE AN ESCORT HOME AFTER THE PROCEDURE IF UNDERGOING A FLEXIBLE SIGMOIDOSCOPY ULTRASOUND.

Planning for your appointment

The Tufts Medical Center GI Motility Unit is located on the third floor in the Proger building. To find information on directions, parking and our campus map, visit the hospital locations and directions page >

Plan to spend about three hours in our unit for your procedure. We will do everything possible to avoid a delay, but emergencies may interrupt the schedule. 

When preparing to come to the Medical Center for your appointment, please be sure to first:

  • Be sure you have an insurance referral, if required by your insurance company.
  • Be prepared to pay any co-payment on the day of your procedure.
  • ONLY if undergoing a flexible sigmoidoscopy ultrasound: Please arrange for an adult escort, 18 years or older, to take you home after the procedure (more info below). 
  • Please bring the following items with you:
    • Your completed medical questionnaire and list of medication(s).
    • Your hospital card.

ONLY if undergoing a flexible sigmoidoscopy ultrasound:
Please arrange for an adult escort, 18 years or older, to take you home after the procedure. You will be receiving sedation and you should not drive until the next day. Your escort does not have to come with you when you check in but MUST meet you in the Endoscopy Unit on Proger 3 when you are ready to go home. You are still required to have an adult escort, 18 years or older, if you plan to take the T, taxi, ride sharing service, THE RIDE or are walking home. If you do not have an escort on the day of your procedure, your procedure will be CANCELLED 

*If you are above 60 years of age and need an escort home, volunteer escorts may be available if scheduled 2 weeks in advance. 

If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call us at least 48 hours in advance to re-schedule: 617-636-0142.

Preparing for your procedure

ONE WEEK before your procedure

  • If you have a history of a known bleeding disorder, or if you have frequent, unexplained bleeding, please inform the doctor right away.
  • Discontinue iron supplements one week prior to your procedure.
  • If you have heart or kidney disease, please contact your primary doctor for instructions regarding this sigmoidoscopy preparation. If you have diabetes and are taking medications to control your blood sugar, contact your primary care doctor for instructions on taking your medicine the day before and the day of the procedure.
  • If you take any BLOOD THINNING MEDICATIONS OTHER THAN ASPIRIN (for example:  Coumadin (Warfarin), Eliquis, Pradaxa, Xarelto, Plavix, Brillinta, Lovenox), contact your primary care physician or heart doctor for instructions on if and when to stop these medications prior to your procedure.  ASPIRIN may be continued prior to the procedure.

TWO DAYS before your procedure

  • You will need to obtain a bottle of Magnesium Citrate (11 oz. or 296mL) and 2 Dulcolax tablets (5 mg each), and 1 Dulcolax suppository (10 mg) which may be purchased at any pharmacy.

ONE DAY before your procedure

  • Drink the entire bottle of Magnesium Citrate at 6 PM on the evening before the sigmoidoscopy. You may wish to chill it first. Follow this with the 2 Dulcolax tablets and 2 glasses of water.
  • Breakfast: Your normal diet
  • Lunch: Clear liquids only: water, black coffee, black tea, clear juices (no orange or other pulp containing juices), clear broth, bouillon, and carbonated beverages. You may also have clear Jell-O (no fruit, cream, or other additives). Do not use any milk, cream, or pulp juices.
  • Supper: Clear liquids only.

Day of the procedure

  • Shortly after you awake on the morning of the procedure, insert 1 Dulcolax suppository per rectum.
  • You may have clear liquids for breakfast.