Colon Cancer Screening
Screening examinations using CT imaging technologies help to identify abnormalities that affect various parts of the body. When prescribed by a doctor who knows your health history and the risk factors that apply to you, imaging tests can identify or rule out the presence of serious conditions at early stages.
Virtual Colonoscopy is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a CT Scanner and specially developed computer software to produce 3D images of the colon (large intestine) covering the area from the rectum to its junction with the small intestine.
The images produced are displayed on a computer screen and enable the radiologist to visually “fly through” the colon in search of polyps, lesions, tumors or other conditions or diseases. The screening procedure is much less invasive than a traditional colonoscopy, and requires no sedation.
What things should I consider about Virtual Colonoscopy in comparison to conventional colonoscopy?
- Virtual Colonoscopy is extremely safe. As is the case with Diagnostic Imaging in general, the use of CT technologies coupled with the special software for this study provides a non-invasive, comfortable, and safe way to search for any indications of colon abnormalities.
- Patients find the exam more comfortable than other screening exams – including barium enemas and conventional colonoscopy. Bowel preparation is required, but there is no recovery time necessary after the procedure and one can immediately resume normal activities.
- As with all examinations requiring x-rays, there is a small amount of radiation exposure, similar in scope to a standard barium enema.
- Initial reports indicate that Virtual CT Colonoscopy has similar sensitivity to conventional colonoscopy in the detection of clinically important polyps (i.e. those that exceed 10 mm in diameter).
- Should the study detect a polyp or tumor, conventional colonoscopy usually has the advantage of being able to remove polyps and perform biopsies at the same time of the diagnostic study, while Virtual Colonoscopy does not. Conventional colonoscopy, however, is also more invasive, costly and cannot be completed in a small percentage of patients.