CT Colonography

Radiology Associates of Tallahassee offers CT Colonography (also known as Virtual Colonoscopy) as a method to screen for colorectal cancer. This method is less invasive and time-consuming than traditional optical colonoscopy with no needles or sedation required.

Learn More About CT Colonography

Colon cancer is unfortunately one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States and is also the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The traditional method for colon and rectal cancer screening is with optical colonoscopy. In this procedure, the patient is sedated and a small, flexible, catheter-type device with a camera is inserted into rectum, and passed through the entire colon.

The goal of screening with CT colonography is to find these growths in their early stages, so that they can be removed before cancer has had a chance to develop. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women and men undergo screening for colon cancer or polyps beginning at age 50. As part of its recommendation, ACS suggests CT colonography as an option once every five years.

How Should I Prepare?

Just as for conventional colonoscopy, you must follow a bowel-emptying regimen the day before the examination to enable clear imaging of tissues. You will be placed on a liquid diet and prescribed laxatives to eliminate all solid material from your colon.

If you would like additional information regarding CT Colonography, please visit the CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy) section of RadiologyInfo.org.

When Will I Receive Results?

Radiologists specialized in body imaging will analyze the images obtained from the CT on a computer program that shows a 3D image of the colon. They will send the results of your exam to your physician within one week of the study.

Make an Appointment

Typically your referring physician will schedule an appointment for you. If you have been asked to schedule the appointment yourself, please have your physician’s order and any pre-authorization information required by your insurance or health plan provider in hand, and call 850-878-4127.

What Should I Expect?

The CT scan will only last around 15 minutes. CT Colonography requires rectal insertion of a narrow, flexible tube, through which air is pumped to expand the folds of the colon. For your examination, you will lie comfortably on both you back and stomach at different times on a padded table. The table will move in short steps through the scanner as a CT tube rotates around you. At each step, the scanner completes a separate view. The information is processed by the computer and displayed as three-dimensional images on a video screen for the technologist.

You should remain as still as possible to produce the clearest images. You will be asked to hold your breath for up to 30 seconds.

Benefits/Risks

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Nevertheless, individuals at the greatest risk of developing colorectal cancer remain largely unscreened. This is due, in part, to poor public awareness and acceptance of current screening techniques. Unlike optical colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy requires no sedation because it is a minimally invasive procedure. Potential indications for having a CT Colonography exam are incomplete colonoscopy, low-to-average risk patients who prefer not to have a colonoscopy; and frail patients and patients who are unable to tolerate a colonoscopy.

Virtual colonoscopy eliminates the risk of perforating the colon while enabling enhanced detection of polyps as small as 3 millimeters (slightly less than one-eighth of an inch) in diameter. While conventional colonoscopy takes two hours or more to perform, virtual colonoscopy can be completed within half an hour and is a far more comfortable procedure.