Sigmoidoscopy and rectal biopsy

When and why

Sigmoidoscopy is a procedure done to identify the cause of persistent diarrhoea or of abnormal bleeding from the lower bowel. It is commonly carried out when the results of stool cultures have not been able to identify the cause of diarrhoea.

A rigid sigmoidoscope is the usual tool for rectal biopsy. It can only be passed approximately 15cm into the bowel and looks mainly at the rectum. Occasionally, a flexible sigmoidoscope (or colonoscope) is used; this is a flexible tube containing optical fibres.

A laxative is given prior to the procedure to ensure that the views of the bowel are not obscured; a bowel wash-out is usually not required. Small pieces of abnormal-appearing tissue (biopsies) are taken from the lining of the bowel to be analysed.

How it will help

Possible lesions, inflammation, and ulceration of the rectum or colon can be seen and a possible cause for bleeding may be identified by this procedure. The biopsy specimens will help diagnose the cause of diarrhoea. Possible causes of diarrhoea could be cytomegalovirus (CMV), colitis, cryptosporidiosis, mycobacterium avium intracellulare (MAI) infection, or microsporidiosis.

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

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We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.