CT Virtual Colonoscopy

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Each year, approximately 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with a very common and serious disease - colon cancer.

About

Colon cancer usually develops within benign growths called polyps, which arise from the colon wall. If polyps are detected early, removing them stops development of the cancer. The current standard technique for finding and removing polyps is endoscopy, a procedure in which a long, flexible tube is inserted into the colon, allowing a doctor to search for and remove polyps. Hartford Hospital offers virtual colonoscopy as an option when an incomplete colonoscopy has been performed or the patient cannot have a colonoscopy.

Virtual colonoscopy is much less invasive, requiring only a small rubber tip that is placed in the rectum to gently introduce air to inflate the colon. Most patients report that virtual colonoscopy is more comfortable than either barium enema or conventional colonoscopy. Hartford Hospital’s Department of Radiology has been offering 3-D Virtual Colonoscopy since 2002. Our highly-trained staff has extensive experience in performing 3-D virtual colonoscopy, ensuring the optimum in patient comfort and high quality results. Our radiologists have unsurpassed expertise in the interpretation of 3-D virtual colonoscopy.

A polyp can form at any time throughout life, but most commonly occurs in people over the age of 50. Most polyps grow slowly, and the risk that cancer will be found in a polyp is substantial only for polyps at least one half-inch (1 cm) in size. If your virtual colonoscopy shows no polyps, we will usually recommend that you wait five years before having another virtual colonoscopy or as recommended by your doctor.

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Patient Resources

Patient Guide

CT Scan Patient Guide (English) Download
CT Scan Patient Guide (Español) Download

Before the Procedure

  • The night before your exam, proper bowel preparation is essential for a good exam. The colon needs to be prepared so that the radiologist can clearly see if any polyps are present. The special liquid that you drink passes through you and is not absorbed by your body. Because the liquid is not absorbed, it causes most people to have mild diarrhea on that evening only.
  • On the morning of the exam, you should strictly limit your diet to clear liquids, such as tea or apple juice.

What to Expect During a Virtual Colonoscopy

  • Virtual colonoscopy is designed to be easily tolerated by patients. The exam can be completed within twenty minutes, and most patients report that it causes little or no discomfort.
  • To begin, you will lie comfortably on the CT scanner table. A very small, flexible tube tip is inserted into the rectum and air is gently introduced into the colon. After the tube is inserted, your privacy will be maintained and you will be in control of the amount of air.
  • You may experience a sense of fullness, but nearly all patients report that the air insufflation is not painful.
    It takes about two minutes to perform the actual CT scan. The first series of pictures will be taken with you lying on your stomach, followed by another set lying on your back.
  • After the pictures are taken, the tube is removed and you will be free to go.
  • Because no sedation is required for the test, you can drive or return to work after the exam is completed.
  • Most people do not have polyps, but the smaller percentage of people who do should have them removed. If we detect a polyp on your virtual colonoscopy we will inform your doctor, and he or she will likely recommend a follow-up endoscopy to have the polyp removed.

Afterwards
Immediately following the exam, you may resume your regular diet.

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Services

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    The Department of Interventional Radiology and Neuroimaging’s staff physicians have all received specialized training and are all certified by the American Board of Radiology.

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    Each year, approximately 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with a very common and serious disease - colon cancer.

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