Virtual Colonoscopy

Virtual colonoscopy. How to avoid colonoscopy sedation.

Virtual colon exam is a procedure used by your doctor to look inside of the large intestine (colon and rectum) to view the lining of the colon and to look for signs of cancer, polyps and/or other diseases.

Images of the large intestine are taken using CT (computerized tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

The view of the large intestine is three-dimensional.

Why is virtual colonoscopy done and do you really need it?

This test is usually performed to investigate rectal bleeding, obstruction or unexplained abdominal pain, etc.

But sometimes virtual colonoscopy is ordered for certain patients with history of polyps or colon cancer. It’s also ordered for patients with a family history of cancers or other colon diseases on a periodic basis. There were a few large studies in respectable medical journals which compared screened with colonoscopy patients to patients without colonoscopy done. The studies show a very tiny difference between both groups in preventing colon cancer. Also, the colonoscopy procedure in general can have its own risks like bleeding, etc. Start questioning your next scheduled colonoscopy if it’s for preventative purposes and discuss it with your gastroenterologist.

If the procedure was ordered for other reasons like symptoms of intestinal bleeding, diarrhea, abnormality on the X-ray or CT scan, etc., it’s probably necessary to be done. If you are a Crohn's disease patient in remission (no symptoms) and are told to do colonoscopy you may ask for a second opinion, just in case.

How is a virtual colonoscopy performed?

This type of colonoscopy performed in the radiology department.

The procedure takes about 10 minutes and no sedation is required.

Patient will have to lie face up on the examination table.

A thin tube is inserted through the anus and into the rectum.

A gas will be pumped through the tube to inflate the large intestine for better viewing for a CT.

But for an MRI, some contrast media will be given rectally to dilate the large intestine.

The examination table will move through the MRI unit or CT scanner and will make a number of cross-sectional images of the colon.

During this time you may be asked to hold your breath for steady images.

Then, the same procedure will be repeated facing down. The images will be evaluated by specialists and if any suspicious findings are noted they will recommend that a conventional colonoscopy be done(to perform a biopsy or remove the polyp, etc).

How is virtual colonoscopy different from conventional colonoscopy? What are the advantages and disadvantages of virtual colonoscopy?

Crohn's disease patients often have to get colonoscopies. It's natural they wonder which type is safer or easier to tolerate.

The biggest difference between the two is the procedure and the view inside of the colon. In a conventional colonoscopy a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope is used. In a virtual colonoscopy a CT or an MRI is used.

There are a few advantages to a virtual colonoscopy. First, no colonoscopy sedation is needed, a patient can return home without anyone’s help. The colonoscopy sedation risks are eliminated.

Also, this type of procedure doesn’t require the insertion of a colonoscope into the length of the whole colon. Here, a thin tube is used without going through the entire colon.

Virtual colon exam gives a much clearer, more detailed image than a conventional procedure.

It takes less time and this procedure allows the doctor to see inside a colon that is inflamed and narrowed. It can even find polyps located behind folds that are sometimes missed be regular colonoscopy.

There are some disadvantages to this procedure.

Just like conventional colonoscopy, this test also requires a full bowel preparation.

Also, it needs the gas or liquid to be added during the procedure to expand the intestine.

This procedure doesn’t allow the doctor to take a biopsy nor remove polyps. About thirty to forty percent of people have polyps. This test is not available everywhere and may not be covered by medical insurances.

Virtual colon test can not detect pre-cancerous polyps smaller than five to ten millimeters that are easily seen with conventional colonoscopy. Virtual colonoscopy is not as accurate as the regular colonoscopy at finding flat cancers(not polyp-like, not protruding cancers).

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What to do before virtual colonoscopy?

It’s very important to tell your doctor about ALL the medications you are taking and all your medical conditions and allergies. Most medications should be continued as usual, but some can interfere with the procedure. Blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin), aspirin products, iron tablets, insulin are just examples of some medications that can interfere with a colonoscopy procedure. If you needed antibiotics prior to your dental visits because of your heart condition, make sure to tell your gastroenterologist because you may need to take them in this case as well.

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You really need your omega-3 oils to improve your overall health. This may help you avoid the need for a repeat colonoscopy. But not all omega-3's are the same. Which ones is the best? Here it is.

How to prepare for virtual colon test

The bowel preparation for this test is basically the same as the prep for a conventional procedure. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions and prescriptions. Follow the directions very carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Diet Before Colonoscopy Bowel Preparation. It's so important to speak to your doctor about what you can eat before colonoscopy. You will need to know what type of foods to avoid before colonoscopy. You will need a really clean colon before colon test.

Katie Couric Colonoscopy. You can learn more about Katie Couric's advocacy for colorectal cancer awareness.

Colonoscopy Preparation. For the smoothest possible procedure it pays to be prepared.

After this preparation, patients undergoing CT need to drink even more liquid. This time it’s contrast media that makes the large intestine to appear very bight during a CT scan that allows the doctor to see clearer images.

Virtual Colonoscopy Video.

View a colonoscopy. This virtual colonoscopy video gives you information about a new study. This study suggest that virtual colonoscopy may be acceptable cancer screening alternative for some patients.

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Virtual Colonoscopy - Things To Expect After Colonoscopy Procedure:

What happens after a colonoscopy procedure?

  • You will stay in a recovery room until you are ready to be discharged.

  • You may experience some cramping that should go away very soon. But my cramping and my pains lasted over 24 hours. You may want to prevent this kind of experience with a prescription pain medication and prescription antispasmodic like Bentyl, for example. Consider asking your doctor before the procedure for these prescriptions.

  • Avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours.

  • You can eat regular foods unless your doctor specifies otherwise.

  • Your doctor will probably recommend to avoid aspirin or medications containing aspirin, or anti-inflammatory drugs(like ibuprofen, indomethacin, or naproxen) for 2 weeks after this test if polyps were removed or a biopsy was done.

  • Double check with your doctor when it’s safe to resume blood thinners like aspirin, Coumadin (warfarin), Plavix or Ticlid.

  • Light rectal bleeding may be noticed if a biopsy was done but large amounts of bleeding or abdominal pain should be immediately reported to your gastroenterologist.

I wish you a safe procedure and great health!

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