The health of your colon isn’t something you probably think about on a regular basis, but it should always be in the back of your mind once you turn 40. Regular screenings can help ensure the health of your colon, and while a colonoscopy is far and away the most popular examination option, it’s not the only way doctors can keep tabs on your colon.
Another technique is known as a sigmoidoscopy, and it’s a little different than a colonoscopy. Below, we take a closer look at the similarities and differences between these two imaging techniques.
Sigmoidoscopy Vs. Colonoscopy
Both of these screening tests involve the insertion of a thin flexible tube with a microcamera attached to it to allow the physician to view different areas in the colon. However, this is where the two procedures start to differ. While a colonoscopy allows the specialist to view the entire colon, a sigmoidoscopy only covers the lower part of your colon, which includes the rectum and the sigmoid colon.
Because of this, a sigmoidoscopy has benefits and drawbacks compared to a colonoscopy. One of the benefits being that a sigmoidoscopy is less invasive and therefore patient prep is less complicated. Sedation is not usually needed for patients undergoing a sigmoidoscopy, which isn’t the norm for those undergoing a colonoscopy.
The timelines for when you can expect to undergo the procedures is a little different as well:
- Sigmoidoscopy – This is typically performed about every five years for patients at average risk for colon cancer.
- Colonoscopy – This is typically performed every 10 years beginning at age 50 for patients at average risk.
So for most patients, they’ll undergo a colonoscopy at 50, 60 and 70, and a sigmoidoscopy at ages 55, 65, and 75. However, there’s a possibility that one procedure will be subbed in for the other given your individual risk factors.
Finally, it’s also worth noting that sigmoidoscopy is considered a slightly safer procedure. Both procedures are very safe when performed by a skilled gastroenterologist, but because a sigmoidoscopy involves less navigation of the endoscope, there’s a reduced risk of colon or rectal wall damage. With that said, because it only checks a few areas of your colon, some cancers can go undetected with the less invasive procedure, so each technique has its own benefits and drawbacks.
If you’re overdue for a colon screening, give Bhatti GI a call today and see which procedure may be right for you. For more information, give us a call at (952) 368-3800.