A virtual colonscopy, or a CT colonscopy, is a newer method of screening the colon for precancerous polyps or to detect abnormalities in the colon and rectum. A virtual colonoscopy uses a CT to produce numerous cross-sectional images of the abdominal organs, giving your Arlington gastroenterologist a more detailed look at the area in question. These images are then combined and manipulated with the use of a computer to provide a three-dimensional view of the inside of the colon and rectum. A virtual colonoscopy is possible because of new, innovative CT scanners and computer software that produce high-resolution images and reconstruct the pictures taken to produce an image of the colon’s inner surface.
A virtual colonoscopy differs from a traditional colonoscopy because no sedation is required and there is no need for the insertion of a scope into the colon. A less invasive procedure, your Arlington gastroenterologist may require you undergo a virtual colonscopy for numerous reasons.
Reasons for the Test
Your Arlington, Texas gastroenterologist may suggest you have a virtual colonscopy for one of the following reasons:
- If you are over 50 and have never had a colon screening exam
- If you have undergone a traditional colonoscopy in the past and polyps were detected and removed
- If you have no personal history of colon cancer
- If you have no personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
- If you have a medical condition for which sedation would be contraindicated
- If you have gastrointestinal symptoms (such as a change in bowel habits)
- In order for your gastroenterologist to further evaluate lesions found during a traditional colonoscopy
What to Expect
As with a traditional colonoscopy, you will be required to completely cleanse the colon prior to the exam. This can be done by using an enema or laxatives combined with a liquid diet in the day leading up to the exam. It is extremely important that no solid matter remains in the colon during the exam.
During the exam you will lie on your left side on a designated table that is then put through the CT scanner. A thin, flexible tube is then inserted into your rectum, after which air is pumped through the tube to enlarge the colon. You will lie on your back once the tube is inserted as the table slowly slides through the large, cylinder-shaped machine. During this time X-rays will be taken to create images of your colon. It is imperative for you to remain still during this portion of the exam, as movement could negatively affect the outcome of the images.