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Definition, Purpose, Precautions, Description, Preparation, Aftercare, Risks, Normal results, Abnormal results

An anoscopy is an examination of the rectum in which a small tube is inserted into the anus to screen, diagnose, and evaluate problems of the anus and anal canal.


This test may be ordered for the evaluation of perianal or anal pain, hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, digital rectal examination that shows a mass, perianal abscess and condyloma (a wart-like growth). An anascopy may be performed to check for abnormal openings between the anus and the skin, or anal fissures. The test is also used to diagnose rectal cancer.


Anoscopy should not be performed on patients with acute cardiovascular problems due to the vasovagal reaction it may cause. This test is also not recommended for patients with acute abdominal problems and those with a constricted or narrowed anal canal.


Anoscopy views the anus and anal canal by using an anoscope. An anoscope is a plastic, tube-shaped speculum that is a smaller version of a sigmoidscope. Before the anoscope is used, the doctor completes a digital rectal examination with a lubricated, gloved index finger. The anoscope is then lubricated and gently inserted a few inches into the rectum. This procedure enlarges the rectum to allow the doctor to view the entire anal canal with a light. If any suspicious areas are noticed, a piece of tissue can be biopsied.

During the anoscopy procedure there may be a feeling of pressure or the need to go to the bathroom. If a biopsy is taken, the patient may feel a slight pinch. The procedure is performed on an out-patient basis, and takes approximately an hour to complete.


The patient will be instructed to clear their rectum of stool before the procedure. This may be done by taking a laxative, enema, or other preparation that may help with the evacuation.


If a biopsy is needed during an anoscopy, there may be slight anal bleeding for less than two days following the procedure. The patient may be instructed to sit in a bathtub of warm water for 10 to 15 minutes, three times a day, to help decrease the pain and swelling.


A simple anoscopy procedure offers minimal risks. There is a limited risk of bleeding and mild pain is a biopsy is performed.

Normal results

Normal values to look for during an anoscopy include an anal canal that appears healthy in size, color, and shape. The test also looks for no evidence of bleeding, polyps, hemorrhoids or other abnormalities.

Abnormal results

While an anoscopy is typically performed to determine is hemorrhoids are present, other abnormal finding could include polyps, abscesses, inflammation, fissures, colorectal polyps, or cancer.



Altman, Roberta; Sarg, Michael J. "Anoscopy." The Cancer Dictionary. Checkmark Books, 2000. 18


Colyar, Margaret. "Anascopy Basics." The Nurse Practitioner (October 2000): 91.


Discovery Health. "Medical Tests: Anoscopy." <http://health.discover.com/diseasesandcond/encyclopedia/1038.html> (5 May 2001)

Lycos Health with Web MD. "Anoscopy." <http://webmd.lycos.com/content/asset/adam_test_anoscopy> (5 May 2001).

Beth A. Kapes


Anal fissure—An ulcer on the margin of the anus.

Digital rectal examination—An examination where a gloved, lubricated index finger is inserted into the rectum to check for any abnormalities.

Polyps—A tumor with a small flap that attaches itself to the wall of various vascular organs such as the nose, uterus and rectum. Polyps bleed easily, and if they are suspected to be cancerous they should be surgically removed.

Vasovagal reaction—Regarding the action of stimuli from the vagus nerve on blood vessels.

Additional topics

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