Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer related death in the United States. Colon cancer can be prevented if polyps are discovered and removed early before they become cancerous. It is believed that tumors take years to develop and typically form from a benign non-cancerous polyp. If these are removed the progression to malignant disease can be prevented. Nevertheless, individuals remain largely under screened, in part due to poor public awareness and reluctance to current screening procedures. The American Cancer Society recommends that patients undergo a test that allows the entire colon to be visualized at the age of 50 and then every 3 to 5 years.
The two currently accepted methods include conventional colonoscopy and barium enema. Although both visualize the entire colon, barium enema is a less sensitive examination and is considered an inferior test. Colonoscopy, which is more sensitive as a screening procedure, is more costly and requires sedation and anesthesia. The introduction of a safe, non-invasive, and affordable procedure for detecting polyps has a broad appeal.
NOTE: Video below has no sound.
Virtual colonoscopy is a new method that allows radiologists to evaluate the lining of the colon to detect polyps and cancers. Polyps are growths in the colon that may become cancerous if they are not removed. Utilizing a high-speed multidetector CT scanner and specialized computer software, images are obtained that visualize the surface contour of the colon. Images are evaluated in both two and three dimensional projections as well as endoscopic views similar to those seen during conventional colonoscopy.
Advantages of Virtual Colonoscopy over Conventional Colonoscopy
- No sedation
- Immediate resumption of normal activities
- Rapid, safe and accurate for polyps more than 5mm in diameter
Reimbursement by insures is variable so patients should check with their insurance company prior to scheduling an examination so they understand their financial obligations at the time of service.