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How Does Colonoscopy Differ From a CT Colonography?

How Does Colonoscopy Differ From a CT Colonography?

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and women, and it’s striking people at a younger age than in the past. Because of this, it’s recommended that you start screening for colon cancer at age 45 instead of 50. 

Conventional colonoscopy and CT colonography are two colorectal cancer screening methods. While traditional colonoscopy has been the standard procedure, CT colonography, also known as virtual colonoscopy, offers a less invasive alternative. 

At Life Imaging Fla in Orlando and Deerfield Beach, Florida, we offer a state-of-the-art, low-dose CT scan that can detect cancer and other issues in your colon. It has some advantages over traditional colonoscopy.

CT colonography overview

CT colonography lets us examine your colon with digital technology. This procedure uses a spiral CT scanner to generate cross-sectional images of the colon, which are then reformatted in three dimensions. 

This imaging technique provides a view of the colon that closely resembles what we see during a conventional colonoscopy, but without the need for inserting a long tube throughout the entire length of the colon.

Virtual colonoscopy preparation

Preparing for a virtual colonoscopy is similar to preparing for a traditional colonoscopy. You must prep your bowels by taking a bowel-clearing solution and following a clear liquid diet the night before the virtual colonoscopy. 

Doing so is crucial to ensure that your colon is clean. Any residue remaining in the colon can obstruct the view, compromising the scan’s effectiveness. 

CT colonography procedure

During a virtual colonoscopy, you recline on a table while our radiologist inserts a thin tube into your rectum to gently inflate the large intestine. This process provides a better view of the colon. 

You then undergo a CT scan and may need to change position so our radiologist can view your colon from various angles.

Virtual colonoscopy vs. traditional colonoscopy

While both screening tests aim to detect colon polyps and cancer, they use different approaches. The diagnostic sensitivity of CT colonography is similar to conventional colonoscopy for detecting polyps greater than 6.0mm in diameter, but its sensitivity decreases for smaller polyps. 

One of the main advantages of virtual colonoscopy is that it requires no sedation and is over quickly, in about 15 minutes, compared to an hour for traditional colonoscopy. Additionally, CT colonography avoids the small risk of colon perforation associated with traditional colonoscopy.

When is a traditional colonoscopy preferred?

Healthcare providers typically recommend a traditional colonoscopy over a CT colonography if you have a history of colorectal cancer or polyps. A traditional colonoscopy allows us to not only detect, but also remove polyps or to biopsy suspicious areas.

And if you have symptoms such as rectal bleeding, persistent unexplained abdominal pain, or changes in bowel habits, a traditional colonoscopy allows for a more comprehensive examination of the entire colon and rectum. 

If you have a family history of colon cancer or have inherited conditions that raise your risk, your doctor will likely recommend a traditional colonoscopy. 

Advantages of CT colonography

Many people put off having a traditional colonoscopy due to its invasive nature. This is an area where virtual colonoscopy may improve rates of early detection, as you may be less reluctant to have a CT colonography, compared to a traditional colonoscopy. 

Because the procedure is over quickly and without sedation, you can resume your regular schedule following a CT colonography. There’s no need to make special arrangements or to have anyone pick you up. 

CT colonography provides an effective alternative for colon cancer screening. If you’re due for a colon cancer screening, contact our center in Orlando or Deerfield Beach, Florida, to schedule an appointment. 

Start the new year with a step toward protecting your colon health and overall wellness.


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