Virtual colonoscopy combines sophisticated X-rays and computed
tomography (CT) scans of the abdomen to produce a two- and
three-dimensional computer model of the patient’s colon. If precancerous
or cancerous lesions or polyps are detected, a traditional colonoscopy
is generally required.
Why choose virtual colonoscopy?
Virtual colonoscopy is a minimally-invasive procedure that involves no
sedation and no post-procedure recovery. Patients can resume normal
activities immediately following the procedure, so there is no delay in
returning to work or driving. In contrast, a traditional optical
colonoscopy may require 30 minutes of recovery time and additional
restrictions on driving. With optical colonoscopy, there is a very low
risk of complications such as abdominal bleeding or bowel perforation.
This risk is even lower with the virtual colonoscopy exam.
Studies show that both virtual and optical colonoscopy reduce the rate
of colon cancer.
What to expect
A virtual colonoscopy requires a colon cleansing done by the patient the
day before the exam. This includes a special diet and laxative. On the
day of the exam, the patient may also drink special liquids which help
identify colon abnormalities.
During a virtual colonoscopy, a small tube is inserted into the rectum
to fill the colon with air or carbon dioxide to provide clear images.
This may cause minimal, brief discomfort in the abdomen. The entire
procedure takes about 10 minutes.
If polyps are found during the virtual colonoscopy, a follow up
procedure is required to remove the polyp using the traditional optical
colonoscopy. If scheduled in advance, the patient will have the option
to receive the optical colonoscopy on the same day, immediately
following the virtual colonoscopy, thus avoiding another fasting and
colon cleansing cycle.
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.