Virtual Colonography: Providing a Comfortable Patient Experience for Colon Cancer Screening

Published October 27, 2016

Elizabeth Edney, MD

Are you approaching 50? Has your doctor mentioned screening for colon cancer?

Screening colonoscopies are the fodder for evening sitcoms and can incite anxiety in even the calmest of us. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in all adults and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, but is largely preventable or curable if detected early.

Despite these facts, many adults are reluctant to have screening colonoscopies performed.

Now, at Nebraska Medicine – Radiology, getting a virtual colonoscopy is a minimally invasive method of screening that is a viable alternative to colonoscopy for those patients who cannot have colonoscopy.

Computed tomographic (CT) or virtual colonography is a fast, accurate and safe alternative to a traditional colonoscopy. With virtual colonography, a computer generates a detailed 3D model of your colon.

The radiologist can then view the colon in a way that simulates traveling through bowel. At the same time, 2D images of your entire abdomen and pelvis are obtained without using any extra radiation. The radiologist also reviews these, which can detect abnormalities outside the colon.

Although both virtual and traditional methods of screening your colon require a bowel prep, virtual colonography has many benefits:

  • takes less than 20 minutes
  • requires no sedation
  • allows you to return to work the same day

Its main limitation is its role as a diagnostic test only – no biopsy or treatment can be performed during the virtual colonography. If a problem is found that needs further examination, you may still need a regular colonoscopy.

Virtual colonography is another way Nebraska Medicine – Radiology is at the forefront of technology while providing excellent care and a comfortable patient experience. I encourage you to speak to your doctor today about whether this test is the right option for you. Give us a call at 800.922.0000.

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