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What is a sigmoidoscopy?

Sigmoidoscopy allows inspection of the lining of the rectum, anus and lower part of the colon, using a flexible tube with a video camera at the tip.

The endoscope is a long flexible tube that has a light and a camera on the end of it. For this procedure, the endoscope is inserted into the bottom (anus) and then slowly advanced along the large bowel.

The bowel is closely examined and, if necessary, biopsies (small tissue samples) are taken for testing. The main reasons for this procedure are to investigate abdominal pain, diarrhoea or bleeding from the bowel.

There is usually a preparation required for this procedure, which should have been already discussed with you by your doctor.

How long will it take?

The procedure itself will take about 40 minutes. Your child will then go to the recovery room. Therefore your child will be away from you for approximately one hour. Your child will then be required to stay in the day surgery unit for approximately one hour following the procedure.

You will be able to go home after one hour. A small amount of bleeding or spotting is normal after this procedure. 

When can my child eat and drink again?

If your child is awake on return to the Day Unit, they can have clear fluids immediately (breastfed babies can have a breastfeed). A light diet will be offered when fully awake.

Care following the procedure

Diet and fluids

Encourage normal diet and fluids once home unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

Nausea and vomiting

It is not uncommon for children to vomit once returning from hospital. If your child is vomiting, give sips of clear fluids, try a piece of dry toast or a cracker biscuit and increase amounts as tolerated until the vomiting settles. If vomiting continues seek medical advice.


Your child may have a sore throat after the procedure due to the breathing tube. Abdominal (tummy) pain and bloating are common following the procedure. If the pain is mild, rest and have sips of clear fluids until feeling better.

You can give your child some paracetamol to relieve this discomfort. Follow the instructions on the packaging as required. If your child has severe  abdominal pain or bloating that is not relieved by paracetamol, or there is a significant amount of blood in your child’s bowel movement, you should seek medical assistance.


Your child should rest at home under your care for the remainder of the day. Normal activities such as school and kindy can resume the following day. 

Points to remember

Please seek medical advice for the following:

  • if your child has vomited more than two to three times
  • bowel movements with a significant amount of blood
  • severe tummy pain or bloating
  • a high temperature (above 38 degrees Celsius).

Follow up

Your doctor will discuss the required follow up plan with you before you leave. This usually consists of a consultation or a phone call for the biopsy results.

Emergency contact

To ensure your child receives the best possible care in an emergency, you should call 000 or go to your nearest Emergency Department.

If you have any concerns or questions please contact your doctor.

Contact Mater Children’s Private Brisbane

Salmon Building,

Raymond Terrace,

South Brisbane QLD 4101

Telephone: 07 3163 8111


Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-470039
Last modified 29/4/2020.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 23/10/2019
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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