Virtual colonoscopy, a service provided by Premier Diagnostic Imaging, is a procedure that uses a CT scanner and virtual reality software to look inside the large bowel (colon). Virtual colonography has been approved by the American Cancer Society as a screening option in the detection of colon cancer and polyps. Virtual colonoscopies are preferable to traditional colonoscopies because the procedure time is less than 1 hour and you are able to resume daily activity as soon as you leave the facility. Also, since this test is performed using a CT machine, other organs are also visualized in that area, such as the liver, pancreas, spleen, and kidneys.
Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths and can potentially be prevented if colon polyps are discovered and removed early. Individuals at greatest risk of developing colorectal cancer are over 50 and have family history of colon cancer or polyps. Virtual colonoscopy is currently covered by most insurance plans.
The actual procedure will begin by having a small tube placed in the rectum to inflate the colon with carbon dioxide, which is easily absorbed by the body. The CT scan is performed while you lie on your back and then on your stomach. The total time for the procedure is 10-20 minutes. Most patients report that the virtual colonoscopy is more comfortable than either the barium enema or conventional colonoscopy. The radiologist analyzes the data to detect colon polyps or cancers. You can resume normal activities immediately after the procedure.