CONTENT AND TOOLS FROM THE FACULTY OF HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL

Harvard Reviews of Health News

Some people may develop headaches after weight-loss surgery, a small study suggests. The study included 338 people with a rare condition known as spontaneous intracranial hypotension. They had low blood pressure in the brain. This caused headaches. Eleven peo...

New Content

Sample Videos

Watch our "Ask Harvard Medical School" Videos

Watch a Sample.

License this content today!

Author:

Contact Us

Inquire about licensing our health information content.

Diagnostic Tests and Surgical Procedures


Anoscopy

What is the test?

A tube called an anoscope is used to look at the inside of your anus and rectum. Doctors use anoscopy to diagnose hemorrhoids, anal fissures (tears in the lining of the anus), and some cancers.

How do I prepare for the test?

Before the test, you might want to empty your bladder or have a bowel movement to make yourself more comfortable.

What happens when the test is performed?

This test is usually done in a doctor's office. You need to remove your underwear. Depending on what the doctor prefers, you either lie on your side on top of an examining table, with your knees bent up to your chest, or bend forward over the table. The anoscope is 3 to 4 inches long and the width of an average-to-large bowel movement. The doctor coats the anoscope with a lubricant and then gently pushes it into your anus and rectum. The doctor may ask you to "bear down" or push as if you were going to have a bowel movement, and then relax. This helps the doctor insert the anoscope more easily and identify any bulges along the lining of the rectum.

By shining a light into this tube, your doctor has a clear view of the lining of your lower rectum and anus. When the test is finished, the anoscope then is pulled out slowly.

You will feel pressure during the examination, and the anoscope will make you feel as if you are about to have a bowel movement. Do not be alarmed by this sensation; it is normal. Most patients who do not have pain with bowel movements do not feel pain from anoscopy.

What risks are there from the test?

There are no significant risks from anoscopy. Sometimes, especially if you have hemorrhoids, you may have a small amount of bleeding after the anoscope is pulled out.

Must I do anything special after the test is over?

You can return to your normal activities immediately.

How long is it before the result of the test is known?

Your doctor can tell you about your anoscopy exam right away. If a biopsy sample is taken during the test, results will take several days to return.

Date Last Reviewed: 4/9/2010
Date Last Modified: 4/9/2010
Copyright Harvard Health Publications