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Many colorectal carcinomas can be diagnosed by rigid sigmoidoscopy. One important limiting factor in the usefulness of this investigation is the presence of faeces; another is inability to negotiate the recto-sigmoid bend. 101 patients (47 men) were sent a Microlax enema with instruction to use it before their first attendance in the outpatient department. The grade of preparation [on a scale of 0 (empty rectum) to 3, with grades 0 and 1 providing an adequate view], height achieved with the sigmoidoscope and whether or not the extent of the examination was limited by faeces were recorded. These data were compared with results in 78 patients (38 men) who did not receive any special preparation. There were no serious difficulties with self-administration. An adequate view was obtained in 89 (88%) of those who had received an enema and in 41 (53%) of those who were unprepared (P < 0.001, chi 2 test). The height achieved and the percentage of patients in whom the sigmoidoscopy was not limited by faeces were also significantly increased. The mailing of micro-enemas to patients who are likely to need sigmoidoscopy is a cheap measure that increases diagnostic yield and saves reattendances.