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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.