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The information contained on this page is provided as general health information and is not intended to substitute as medical advice and direction from your physician or health care provider. Please direct any questions related to your health care provider. In an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency center.


Anoscopy

Definition

Anoscopy is a method to look at the:

  • Anus
  • Anal canal
  • Lower rectum

Alternative Names

Anal fissures - anoscopy; Anal polyps - anoscopy; Foreign object in the anus - anoscopy; Hemorrhoids - anoscopy; Anal warts - anoscopy

How the Test is Performed

The procedure is usually done in a doctor's office.

A digital rectal exam is done first. Then, a lubricated instrument called an anoscope is placed a few inches or centimeters into the rectum. You will feel some discomfort when this is done.

The anoscope has a light on the end, so your health care provider can see the entire area. A sample for biopsy can be taken, if needed.

How to Prepare for the Test

Often, there is no preparation needed. Or, you may receive a laxative, enema, or other preparation to empty your bowel. You should empty your bladder before the procedure.

How the Test will Feel

There will be some discomfort during the procedure. You may feel the need to have a bowel movement. You may feel a pinch when a biopsy is taken.

You can usually return to normal activities after the procedure.

Why the Test is Performed

This test may be used to determine whether you have:

  • Anal fissures (small split or tear in the lining of the anus)
  • Anal polyps (growth on the lining of the anus)
  • Foreign object in the anus
  • Hemorrhoids (swollen veins in the anus)
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Tumors

Normal Results

The anal canal appears normal in size, color, and tone. There is no sign of:

  • Bleeding
  • Polyps
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Other abnormal tissue

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may include:

  • Abscess (collection of pus in the anus)
  • Fissures
  • Foreign object in the anus
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Polyps (non-cancerous or cancerous)
  • Tumors

Risks

There are few risks. If a biopsy is needed, there is a slight risk of bleeding and mild pain.

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Rectal biopsy

References

Abdelnaby A, Downs JM. Diseases of the anorectum. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 129.

Beard JM, Osborn J. Common office procedures. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 28.