CT Virtual Colonoscopy

Procedure Locations

What is CT Virtual Colonoscopy?

What is a CT Virtual Colonoscopy?

If you are like many Americans, you may be reluctant to have a Colonoscopy because of the unpleasant nature of traditional screening methods. A CT Virtual Colonoscopy is a new, less invasive alternative for the screening of colorectal cancer, and it is available at Fairfax Radiology.

Medical guidelines recommend both men and women have regular Colonoscopies beginning at age 50 (or at age 40 if there is a family history of colon cancer) to identify and remove any pre-cancerous polyps that may be present years before cancer even develops. CT Virtual Colonoscopy is a safe and reliable screening alternative for patients that cannot or choose not to undergo conventional screening. It may be used to aid in the early detection of colon cancer. For more information on colon cancer ask your primary care provider or visit the American Cancer Society website.

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Why would my physician recommend a Virtual Colonoscopy?

Your physician may recommend a Virtual Colonoscopy if you cannot undergo conventional screening for any reason, have a medical contraindication for sedation, are undergoing blood-thinning therapy or have a history of unsuccessful conventional Colonoscopy. During a Virtual Colonoscopy, Computed Tomography (CT) imaging is used to create a three-dimensional image of your colon.

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How do I prepare for a Virtual Colonoscopy?

You will be given detailed prep instructions before your Virtual Colonoscopy. These instructions must be followed the day before your Virtual Colonoscopy, much like those you would need to follow for a Traditional Colonoscopy, including a diet of clear liquids and a laxative to cleanse your colon. 

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How is a Virtual Colonoscopy different from a Traditional Colonoscopy?

During a Traditional Colonoscopy, a long, flexible tube is used to insert a tiny camera into your rectum and colon to identify polyps, masses or other abnormalities. If any polyps are discovered, the physician can remove them during the procedure. Traditional Colonoscopies are recommended every ten years.

With a Virtual Colonoscopy, a shorter tube is inserted into your rectum and is used to inflate air into the colon. CT scans take multiple images of the colon. It turns them into a 3D image that will show abnormalities inside your colon and rectum as well as in the pelvis. If any polyps are detected, you will need to have them removed during a Traditional Colonoscopy or Biopsy. Virtual Colonoscopies are recommended every five years.

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What should I expect during a Virtual Colonoscopy?

If this is your first Virtual Colonoscopy, you may not be sure what to expect. Not to worry, we are here to guide you every step of the way. You will be given detailed preparation instructions before your appointment. During the procedure, you will lie on the padded scanner table and a small tube will be inserted into your rectum filling your colon with air to the extent you can tolerate. The amount of air inserted will be based upon your tolerance level. The table will slide into the scanner so that images may be captured of your colon. This will be repeated twice: once while you lie faceup and once while you lie facedown. The entire exam takes approximately 10-15 minutes.

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How do I schedule a Virtual Colonoscopy with Fairfax Radiology?

Contact our Scheduling Department for an appointment:

Phone: 703.698.4488 Monday through Friday 8am to 6pm

Fax: 703.698.0864

Or click here to make an appointment request

Please have your written physician order and your insurance card in hand when making your appointment.

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When are appointments offered for a Virtual Colonoscopy?

For your convenience, early morning and afternoon appointments are available at the locations listed above. Learn more about each location.

Have questions about your insurance coverage?