CT Colonography, also known as Virtual Colonoscopy, is a minimally invasive examination of the colon. Your doctor would order a CT Colonography as a screening examination of your colon to look for cancers and polyps. Some polyps can grow and turn into cancers. Screening of the colon is typically perfomed in all people 50 years or older. Otherwise, the colon can only be seen with a more invasive procedure (Conventional Colonoscopy) where a camera is inserted and advanced through the rectum to look at the colon.
What should I expect?
For CT Colonography (and Conventional Colonoscopy), the patient needs to clean out the colon in the days before the examination with a specific limited diet, in combination with a set of prescribed cathartic pills and liquids. With CT Colonography, the colon will be distended with air (carbon dioxide) through a small rectal tube, and the patient will be imaged in a CT scanner in at least two different positions. The resulting data will be reviewed by a Radiologist specifically accredited to interpret CT Colonography examinations.
The benefits of CT Colonography over Conventional Colonoscopy is a shorter examination time (usually 30 to 60 minutes), the ability to perform the examination without sedation, and the ability to evaluate the remainder of the abdomen and pelvis for other abnormalities. Following the examination, you can immediately return to normal activity levels, including driving yourself home or returning to work. One limitation of CT Colonography is that is only a diagnostic procedure. If a significant polyp is found, it would have to be removed by Conventional Colonoscopy. However, studies have shown that CT Colonography is an effective alternative screening test to Conventional Colonoscopy in the evaluation for colon cancers and significant colon polyps.
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