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How is the cause of rectal bleeding determined?

If you have rectal bleeding, your doctor may examine the anus visually to look for anal fissures, cancer or external hemorrhoids, or the doctor may perform an internal examination with a gloved, lubricated finger to feel for abnormalities in the lower rectum and anal canal. If indicated, your doctor may also perform a procedure called colonoscopy. In this procedure, a flexible, lighted tube about the thickness of your finger is inserted into the anus to examine the entire colon. Sedative medications are typically given for colonoscopy to make you sleepy and decrease any discomfort.

As an alternative, to evaluate your bleeding, your doctor may recommend a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which uses a shorter tube with a camera to examine the lower colon and rectum. To examine only the lower rectum and anal canal, an anoscope may be used. This very short (3 to 4 inch) tube is especially useful when your doctor suspects hemorrhoids, anal cancer or anal fissures.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.