3 doctors weighed in:

Is sigmoidoscopy safe during pregnancy? I’m in my third trimester and my doctor wants to do a sigmoidoscopy to find out why i’m bleeding. Can it hurt my baby?

3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Douglas Shumaker
Internal Medicine - Gastroenterology
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Flexible

Flexible sigmoidoscopy and even colonoscopy appears to be safe during pregnancy if it is indicated.
A study published in 1996 looked at the safety and effectiveness of 48 flexible sigmoidoscopies during pregnancy done at 10 medical centers and showed that sigmoidoscopy does not induce labor or result in congenital malformations, that sigmoidoscopy is not contraindicated during pregnancy, and that sigmoidoscopy may be beneficial in pregnant patients with significant lower gastrointestinal bleeding. The study included thirteen patients who were in the first trimester of pregnancy, 18 who were in the second trimester, and 15 who were in the third trimester. Twenty-seven patients were found to have significant diagnoses that included colitis and bleeding internal hemorrhoids. No complications occurred in the pregnant patients. Eight colonoscopies were also performed in pregnant patients during this study with no complications to the mother or unborn baby. You should discuss your particular situation with your doctor before deciding whether or not to have a flexible sigmoidoscopy while you are pregnant. Reference: cappell ms, colon vj, sidhom oa. A study at 10 medical centers of the safety and efficacy of 48 flexible sigmoidoscopies and 8 colonoscopies during pregnancy with follow-up of fetal outcome and with comparison to control groups. Dig dis sci. 1996;41(12):2353.

In brief: Flexible

Flexible sigmoidoscopy and even colonoscopy appears to be safe during pregnancy if it is indicated.
A study published in 1996 looked at the safety and effectiveness of 48 flexible sigmoidoscopies during pregnancy done at 10 medical centers and showed that sigmoidoscopy does not induce labor or result in congenital malformations, that sigmoidoscopy is not contraindicated during pregnancy, and that sigmoidoscopy may be beneficial in pregnant patients with significant lower gastrointestinal bleeding. The study included thirteen patients who were in the first trimester of pregnancy, 18 who were in the second trimester, and 15 who were in the third trimester. Twenty-seven patients were found to have significant diagnoses that included colitis and bleeding internal hemorrhoids. No complications occurred in the pregnant patients. Eight colonoscopies were also performed in pregnant patients during this study with no complications to the mother or unborn baby. You should discuss your particular situation with your doctor before deciding whether or not to have a flexible sigmoidoscopy while you are pregnant. Reference: cappell ms, colon vj, sidhom oa. A study at 10 medical centers of the safety and efficacy of 48 flexible sigmoidoscopies and 8 colonoscopies during pregnancy with follow-up of fetal outcome and with comparison to control groups. Dig dis sci. 1996;41(12):2353.
Dr. Douglas Shumaker
Dr. Douglas Shumaker
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Dr. Sean O Donovan
Surgery - Colorectal

In brief: Safe to check

A sigmoidoscopy involves inserting a lighted tube in the anus, rectum and sigmoid to look at the lining--in experienced hands, perfectly safe for you and your baby as it only involves looking and blowing some air inside, and does not require anesthesia.
Always ask your doc how many of these they have done, and what their comfort level is, but safer to look now than continue bleeding.

In brief: Safe to check

A sigmoidoscopy involves inserting a lighted tube in the anus, rectum and sigmoid to look at the lining--in experienced hands, perfectly safe for you and your baby as it only involves looking and blowing some air inside, and does not require anesthesia.
Always ask your doc how many of these they have done, and what their comfort level is, but safer to look now than continue bleeding.
Dr. Sean O Donovan
Dr. Sean O Donovan
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