Virtual Colonoscopy

Virtual Colonoscopy (also called CT colography) has been in the news and we would like to share some information with you about this fascinating new procedure.

At this time, it is not clear as to where this procedure will fit into our recommendations regarding Colorectal Cancer Screening. It is certainly an exciting new development, but further study is needed to know whether the expected benefits are real. In any case, it may be a way to make colorectal cancer screening available to and accepted by more patients. Anything we can do to reduce deaths from colorectal cancer is a positive.

We would like to point out a few facts about Virtual Colonoscopy

  • Virtual colonoscopy requires the same laxative preparation as standard colonoscopy.
  • Air is pumped into the colon to distend it in order to obtain the images. This may be very uncomfortable. Sedation is not given.
  • After putting air in the colon, a CT scan is performed to create the images of the colon.
  • Radiation exposure is significant
  • If an abnormality is found, then standard colonoscopy will also be required.
  • In the best centers, virtual colonoscopy can be as accurate as standard colonoscopy. Accuracy is dependent on experience and the quality of the equipment
  • The cost of virtual colonoscopy is almost as much as a standard colonoscopy performed in our outpatient endoscopy center.
  • The procedure is not covered by Medicare or most private insurers.

If you have questions, please ask one of our physicians. We are pleased that this issue has drawn so much attention to colorectal cancer screening. If more patients are screened, more lives will be saved.