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What is proctoscopy

Proctoscopy is a procedure used to diagnose problems with your rectum and anus. The rectum is the end of your large intestine (colon). The anus is the opening of the rectum.

The device used to perform this procedure is a hollow tube called a proctoscope. A light and lens on the device lets your doctor examine the inside of your rectum.

This procedure is also called rigid sigmoidoscopy. It’s different from a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is another type of procedure used to diagnose problems with the lower portion of the colon.

Why is it done?

You might have a proctoscopy to:

  • diagnose a disease in your rectum or anus, including cancer
  • find the cause of bleeding from the rectum
  • diagnose hemorrhoids
  • remove a sample of tissue for testing, called a biopsy
  • find and remove polyps and other abnormal growths
  • monitor rectal cancer after surgery or other treatments
  • Face turns yellowish due to extensive bleeding
  • After going to the toilet, a feeling that the bowels are still full

Symptoms of Fissures

At least a week before your procedure, tell your doctor about any medications you take. Include all:

  • prescription drugs
  • over-the-counter medicines
  • herbal supplements and vitamins

You might need to stop taking some or all of these a few days before your test, especially if you take medications that thin your blood. Follow your doctor’s instructions.

Cleaning out your rectum before the test can make the area easier for your doctor to examine the area.

If your doctor wants you to cleanse your bowel, you’ll give yourself an enema or take a laxative the day before the procedure. An enema uses a salt-water solution to flush out the contents of your rectum. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to do this.

What happens during the procedure?

A proctoscopy can be done at a hospital or outpatient clinic. You shouldn’t need any anesthesia, unless you want it to feel more comfortable.

You’ll lie on your side with your knees bent.

First, your doctor will insert a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum. This is called a digital exam. It’s done to check for any blockages or sore areas.

Then the doctor will insert the proctoscope into your anus. Air will be pushed into your colon to help your doctor view the area.

The doctor might remove a sample of tissue during the procedure. This is called a biopsy. It’s done using very small tools passed up through the proctoscope.

You may feel some cramping and fullness during this test, along with an urge to empty your bowels. But the procedure shouldn’t be painful.

The whole test takes about 10 minutes. Afterward, the doctor will remove the proctoscope. Then you should be able to go home.

What are the risks?

There are few risks from a proctoscopy. You may bleed a little bit for a few days after the procedure.

Other, less common risks include:

  • infection
  • belly pain
  • a tear in the rectum (this is rare)

What's the recovery like?

You may have some discomfort in your rectum and anus right after the procedure. You might also have some light bleeding from your rectum or blood in your bowel movements for a few days afterward. This is normal, especially if you had a biopsy.

You should be able to go back to your regular activities and eat your usual diet after a proctoscopy.

During your recovery, call your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:

  • a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
  • a large amount of blood in your stool
  • bleeding that lasts for more than a few days after your procedure
  • severe pain in your abdomen
  • a hard, swollen belly


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