Anoscopy is a method to look at the:
- Anal canal
- Lower rectum
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.
The anal canal appears normal in size, color, and tone. There is no sign of:
- Other abnormal tissue
What Abnormal Results Mean
Abnormal results may include:
- Abscess (collection of pus in the anus)
- Foreign object in the anus
- Polyps (non-cancerous or cancerous)
There are few risks. If a biopsy is needed, there is a slight risk for bleeding and mild pain.
Anal fissures - anoscopy; Anal polyps - anoscopy; Foreign object in the anus - anoscopy; Hemorrhoids - anoscopy; Anal warts - anoscopy
Beard JM, Osborn J. Common office procedures. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 28.
Downs JM, Kudlow B. Anal diseases. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 129.
Reynolds PL, Wilkins T. Anoscopy. In: Fowler GC, ed. Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 83.
Review Date 8/22/2022
Updated by: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery Practice Specializing in Breast Cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.