A CT colonography, or virtual colonoscopy, is a diagnostic procedure designed to screen for polyps or cancer in the large intestine. Polyps are growths on the inner lining of the intestine which may become cancerous if left unchecked.
Colonography screening is intended to find these growths in their early stages, before cancer has developed, so that they can be safely removed. Most physicians agree that people over the age of fifty should be screened every seven to 10 years for polyps. Individuals at increased risk, or with a family history of colon cancer, may start screening more frequently and at a younger age. A history of polyps, a family history of colon cancer, or the presence of blood in the stool are among the risk factors for these types of cancer.
What to Expect
Just like a regular colonoscopy, bowel prep is still required before the exam to clean the colon and provide a clear image so that any abnormalities can be clearly identified. Your patient care coordinator will provide you with instructions and details for the prep that is needed.
One of our expert technologists will escort you into the CT scanning room, containing a table and a large, circular device called a gantry. Your technologist will have you lie on the padded table and make sure that you’re comfortable. You will be asked to lie very still and hold your breath for a short time during the scan in order to minimize any body movement and produce a clear image.
A small catheter will be used to inflate the colon with CO2. During this part of the procedure you may be required to lie on your side to achieve the optimal inflation of your colon. Your CT technologist will then ask you to lie on your back and stomach while images are taken.
Your technologist will monitor you during the entire exam and will be able to communicate with you through an intercom.
How long will the test last?
The scan takes approximately half an hour to perform. Preparation and image reconstruction may add an extra half hour, depending on the specifics of the exam.
After the CT Colonography
Our radiologists will carefully analyze your CT images and provide a report to your physician. Once they have received the report your physician will then discuss the results with you.
Your CT technologist will also provide you with a CD or USB containing the images from your scan when you leave.