What is anoscopy?
Anoscopy is a diagnostic technique in which a small lubricated tube (anoscope) is used to view the lining of the rectum and anus. It is a minimally invasive technique in which the anoscope is inserted a few centimeters, so it does not cause discomfort to the patient and he/she leaves the hospital the same day.
What does it consist of?
Anoscopy is a non-invasive technique. The specialist will apply a fluorescent substance to the anoscope that stains the anal canal and the walls of the rectum while it is being introduced.
The patient should be relaxed and lying on his side on the table, and not contract the sphincter, as this way he will feel the anoscope less, although he will feel a sensation of heaviness or some discomfort.
This anoscope has a camera with a lamp to be able to observe the inside of the rectum. Once the specialist reaches the end of the rectum, the device is removed to clean the area. The fluorescent substance that has been introduced will take effect for a few minutes and, once the time has elapsed, the areas that appear marked will have to be biopsied. The specialist will take samples with forceps.
Why is it performed?
The specialist usually requires anoscopy to diagnose rectal pathologies and, sometimes, to make a preventive examination of possible rectal tumors. This test is usually required when there is:
- Anal pain when going to the bathroom
- Repeated anal bleeding
- As rectal cancer prevention
It is a technique normally used in:
- Anal fissures
- Anal polyps
Preparation for anoscopy
The patient may need to empty the bladder or bowel prior to the test, as this will make the procedure more comfortable. The specialist will indicate what steps the patient should follow before going for the test.
What does the examination feel like?
Anoscopy is not a painful test, but the patient will feel a slight sensation of discomfort and heaviness inside the sphincter, so it is important not to exert pressure and try to relax, to feel it as little as possible.
Meaning of abnormal results
Normal results may show specific anal pathologies such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anal polyps or infections. In such cases, treatment will be given promptly.
Anoscopy may show abnormalities that require biopsies in addition to high resolution anoscopy. In these cases the controls will be every x months or years.
However, the patient will receive the result of the biopsies of the altered areas after a few days and will be informed about the possible alteration of the cells. If this is the case, and it is synonymous with cancer, the specialist will explain the alternatives and treatment possibilities, as well as the malignancy factor of the cancer.
There is high resolution anoscopy, which allows a sharper and deeper vision of the anal cavity.