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What is an Anoscopy?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2016
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Anoscopy is an outpatient medical procedure where an instrument is inserted into the anus to allow a doctor to examine it in detail for signs of disease. This procedure is not very comfortable, but it should not be painful and it is not invasive. It can be used in diagnosis and treatment of patients with suspected disorders involving the anus. Proctologists, general practitioners, and gastroenterologists can all use anoscopy in their practices.

In an anoscopy, the patient will be asked to remove clothing on the lower half of the body, along with underpants. Patients may strip and dress in a gown, depending on the policies at the office. The patient lies on an exam table on one side, with the knees curled up to the chest to expose the anus. The anoscope, a small rigid tube, is lubricated and inserted to allow the doctor to get a closer look at the anus. The doctor will usually examine the region around the anus during the process to look for issues like reddened or roughened skin.

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Anal fissures, hemorrhoids, certain types of cancers, and inflammation can all be identified during anoscopy. The doctor may take a biopsy sample if there is a tissue change of concern. For patients with severe fissures or hemorrhoids, the procedure can be painful and there may be some bleeding and irritation. Other patients may feel discomfort and pressure like they need to make a bowel movement, but shouldn't notice any pain. If the procedure is painful, the doctor should be alerted, as this may be a sign of a problem.

After an anoscopy, the patient may be given a medical wipe to cleanse the area around the anus, and then they can get dressed. The doctor can discuss the results of the anoscopy and their implications. If a biopsy needs to be taken, several days may be needed to allow the lab to examine the sample and write up a report. In other cases, results are immediate, and the doctor can discuss options like hemorrhoid medication and dietary adjustments.

Risks associated with this procedure are very low. As long as the anoscope is used properly, no injuries to the anus should occur, and the anus is very flexible, allowing it to rebound quickly after an anoscopy. Patients should be able to defecate normally, without pain or irritation. If pain and soreness are experienced after the test, a doctor should be consulted.

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