A Patient’s Guide To A Virtual Colonoscopy

Getting screened for colon cancer is a necessary part of life once you reach your 40s or age 50. Your personal risk factors affect when you should begin screening and what screening tools are recommended. Today there are several options, and if you are reluctant to get a traditional colonoscopy, keep reading for a patient’s guide to a virtual colonoscopy.

What Is A Virtual Colonoscopy?doctor explaining something to patient

Also known as a CT colonography, a virtual colonoscopy is an imaging exam of your colon using low dose computed tomography (CT).

With a virtual colonoscopy, a CT scan is used to create images of the large intestine and rectum, and a computer combines all the images to produce 2D and 3D pictures or views. It is much less invasive than a regular colonoscopy because the pictures are taken from outside the body.

A regular colonoscopy uses a colonoscope inserted into your rectum. It is a long lit tube with a camera at the end which transmits images to a video monitor. Your doctor can see any polyps or abnormalities and remove tissue if needed for examination.

The goal for both screening tools is the same. They are used to identify polyps or other abnormal tissue which can become cancerous.

How A Virtual Colonoscopy Is Performed

Preparation is similar for both types including the bowel cleanse.

No anesthesia is needed. You will drink a contrast liquid or take a pill prior to the test.

Lying on your side, air is released into the rectum to enlarge the space. You will feel some bloating but no pain. You will then lay face up on a table which will slide into a donut shaped ring. You may be asked to turn once or twice and hold your breath. You will remain in constant communication with the radiologist. This will take only 10 to 15 minutes.

You are free to leave immediately and continue with your day.

What Physicians Learn From A Virtual Colonoscopy

A virtual colonoscopy can show physicians the following:

  • Signs of diverticulosis or small pouches in the intestines or rectum
  • Any internal bleeding
  • Polyps or tissue in the colon or rectum which can become cancerous
  • Tumors in the abdomen, kidneys, liver, pancreas, or spleen
  • Colorectal cancer

If polyps are discovered, a second regular colonoscopy will need to be performed to take tissue for biopsy.

Advantages Of A Virtual Colonoscopy

There are fewer risks with a virtual screening. It is easier for seniors or for those who are on blood thinners. There is no recovery time, it is less expensive, and it is faster than a regular colonoscopy.

Not all insurance will cover this screening test so it’s important to discuss the screening with your carrier for more details.

Schedule a Colonoscopy Appointment in Dallas, TX

Contact Southwest Diagnostic Center For Molecular Imaging at (214) 345-8300 if you are interested in the option of a virtual colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer.