Computed Tomography (CT) Colonography is a minimally invasive exam to screen for cancer of the large intestine, also known as colon cancer. Colon cancer is common, affecting about 1 in 20 people.
In most cases, symptoms of colon cancer, such as persistent abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, don’t appear until the disease is in its advanced stages.
Studies have shown that CT colonography has detection rates similar to traditional colonoscopy for cancer and most types of polyps. Some polyps, including small ones, may be less likely to be detected with CT colonography.
CT colonography is an option to consider to screen for colon cancer. Capitol Imaging Services recommends discussing colon cancer screening options with your doctor or medical provider to determine whether CT colonography is a viable option for you.
When would I get a Virtual CT Colonography?
Typically, CT colonography may be used to screen for colon cancer in people who are at least 50 years of age and at average risk for the disease. Some people with an increased risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer, may need to start screening sooner.
Your medical provider may recommend a CT colonography if:
- you are reluctant to have a traditional optical colonoscopy
- you are at risk of traditional colonoscopy complications such as excess bleeding if your blood doesn’t clot normally
- you have a bowel obstruction
- you do not have a history of colon cancer or abnormal tissue clumps, known as polyps, in your colon
- you do not have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps
- you do not have Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis
- you do not have Acute Diverticulitis
What Will I Experience?
Before the exam, patient preparation is required so that the bowel is as empty and clean as possible. It is important to cleanse the bowel so that stool is not mistaken for a polyp. Most bowel preparation is safe and well tolerated. You should continue to take all of your medication.
The technologist will explain the procedure. You will be asked to lie in the CT scanner. The technologist will insert a short catheter into the rectum. Air is introduced into your bowel via a specially designed pump.
Once there is sufficient air, the technologist captures images through the entire bowel. You will be asked to lie in different positions to distribute the air before taking the images.
After the exam is completed, most patients feel sufficiently comfortable to return to their normal activities. You will be able to eat and drink normally.
Typically, a CT colonography exam takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete.