Powered by Squarespace

What is a Flexible Fiberoptic Sigmoidoscopy?

Flexible Fiberoptic Sigmoidoscopy (FFS) is a diagnostic procedure in which the Physician inspects part of the colon using a long, thin bendable tube equipped with a light and a viewfinder. The tube is inserted into the rectum and slowly advanced into the lower part of the colon to look for polyps, tumors, and other abnormalities. Biopsies (snipping small pieces of tumors) can be done through the scope. FFS usually takes 5-15 minutes.

Why is FFS necessary?

FFS is done to evaluate a bowel condition or as a screening test to find colon cancer or pre-cancers at an early stage. Colon cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S. Approximately 5% of U.S. males and 6% of U.S. females will develop colon cancer in their lifetime. The death rate from colon cancer is nearly 60%. However, if detected early, the death rate is lowered to 20%.

Who is at risk for colon cancer?

Colon cancer is rare under age 40 and most cases occur after age 50. Around 20% of cases result from inherited risks. Since most colon cancers arise from benign adenomatous polyps, patients who have such polyps are at significantly increased risk. A low fiber, high fat diet has been linked to colon cancer. Patients with ulcerative colitis are also at increased risk.

How effective is FFS?

FFS inspects the rectum, sigmoid, and descending colon in which 60-65% of colon cancers are found. Equally important, FFS detects polyps, thus identifying higher risk individuals who need more intensive and more frequent screening. Removal of these polyps can actually prevent the majority of colon cancers. For healthy patients over 50 undergoing screening FFS, cancer will be found in 0.3% and polyps in 9%.

What preparation is necessary?

To clean out the bowel for a proper inspection, a laxative is taken the evening before the procedure along with a clear liquid diet. One or two Fleets enemas are taken the following morning.

Are there any complications?

You may experience some gas pains during the procedure. Serious complications including bleeding and perforation of the bowel are extremely rare.

Does insurance cover FFS?

Insurance coverage varies considerably. As a diagnostic test to evaluate a symptom, FFS is usually covered by insurance. Some insurance companies also cover FFS as a screening test for colon cancer, but many do not. Medicare does cover screening FFS. If coverage is a concern, you should ask your insurance company if they cover a "Screening Flexible Fiberoptic Sigmoidoscopy, CPT code 45330."