Virtual Colonoscopy, (CT colonography), represents an exciting advance in preventive medicine in the screening for colon cancer. It provides a new, proven option, especially for those who have been putting off conventional colonoscopy exams.
Recent studies have shown virtual colonoscopy to find more cancers than conventional or optical colonoscopy. There is no sedation required, and this non-invasive procedure takes only 30 minutes. Many insurance are now covering the cost of this screening.
The choice of a qualified, experienced scanning center is crucial to the success of a virtual colonoscopy screening. Our center is the most experienced facility in Northern Colorado using the most advanced workstations ever developed specifically for noninvasive colon examinations.
We invite you to continue your visit through our site for more information, as well as some interesting and very informative videos.
Imagine, instead of undergoing an invasive procedure with a colonoscopy and being under sedation, and after a major bowel preparation, you now have an option—the quicker, gentler, minimally invasive procedure at Front Range Preventive Imaging, a Virtual Colonoscopy, or VC.
As with conventional colonoscopy, VC requires a cleansing of the colon. Basically, it consists of taking a stool softener, MiraLax®, drinking 8 oz. of magnesium citrate, and then spending a half day on clear liquids of your choice. A dilute barium solution is also given to tag any stool or fluid remaining in the colon. Our technologists will explain the preparation to you and provide you with what you need for this stage of the procedure.
When you arrive at Front Range, you will change into a gown. A small disposable tube is inserted a short way into the rectum to inflate the colon with carbon dioxide. There are no dyes, no sedation, and no IV is required. A reduced radiation CAT scan is taken, first with the patient lying on their back, and again with the patient lying on their stomach.
The images are sent to a special workstation and imaging reconstruction is performed producing an accurate 3D rendering for CT colon examination. The images are reviewed by experienced, Board Certified radiologists and, when present, polyps are measured. Any findings on organs outside of the colon are also noted. The software allows review of 100% of the colon surface, something that is not accomplished with conventional invasive colon exams. A detailed report is then created for the patient and doctor, if requested. The entire procedure takes around 30 minutes. Afterward, you can drive yourself home, or go directly back to work. There is no recovery time needed.
Average Risk Patients
The recommended age to begin colon cancer screening for “average risk” individuals is at age 50. For the average risk patient, the data shows that 92% of subjects who have a virtual colonoscopy require no additional testing or polyp removal.
If you are concerned about cancers and other pathology or diseases outside of the colon, virtual colonoscopy provides a look at other organs and can identify extra colonic findings such as live, kidney, aortic, or ovarian abnormalities.
Higher Risk Patients
People with a family history of colon cancer or other factors that might increase their risk should have the initial colon screen 5 to 10 years sooner.
If you have a condition that would make the presence of a polyp very likely, or if you have symptoms of inflammatory disease, you would be advised to have a conventional colonoscopy so that any significant polyps could be removed or a biopsy taken at the time of the procedure.
Patients on Certain Medications
For the person on Coumadin or other anticoagulants, virtual colonoscopy does not require that these medications be stopped for the procedure.
Patients with a Failed Conventional Colonoscopy
Virtual colonoscopy is a good choice for the person for whom the gastroenterologist was unable to complete the conventional colonoscopy due to the inability to advance the tube.
Convenience and/or Avoidance Issues
For the 60% of the population who have just never gotten around to having their colonoscopy, or those who do not have the time to give up an entire day or two for a screening procedure, virtual colonoscopy provides an ideal option.
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An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that virtual colonoscopy is equivalent to conventional colonoscopy in screening to prevent colon cancer. But, that was only part of the story.
The study involved 1233 patients who underwent a virtual colonoscopy immediately followed by a conventional colonoscopy. The results of this study are shown above.
The conventional colonoscopy found only the 1 cancer until the surgeon was given the road map from the virtual colonoscopy to find the second cancer. As expected, it is not possible to see the cancers outside the colon with conventional colonoscopy.
New England Journal of Medicine, Vol.349;23:2192-2200,12.04.2003