Virtual Colonoscopy (CT Colonography)

Author: OncoLink Team
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What is a virtual colonoscopy?

A virtual colonoscopy is a test in which a CT scan is used to take pictures of your colon and rectum. This is done from outside of your body and is used to find ulcers, polyps and cancer. This test is primarily used as a screening exam for colon cancer in people over the age of 50. It can also be called CT colonography. 

How do I prepare for a virtual colonoscopy?

Your provider will give you specific instructions to follow in preparation for the test. Often you will need to be on a clear liquid diet the day before the test and then not be able to eat or drink anything hours prior to the test. You will need to clear out your colon and will likely be ordered a laxative. It is important to discuss all medications that you take with your provider to determine if it is safe to take them prior to the test. 

How is this test performed?

You will need to put on a hospital gown. You will lie on an exam table on your side with your knees pulled up towards your chest. A small tube will be placed into your rectum to fill your colon with air or carbon dioxide. You will then turn onto your back and the exam table will slide into the CT machine. Pictures will be taken while you are on your back and then again while lying on your side. You may be instructed to change your position or hold your breath at different times during the test. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes to complete. 

What to expect after your virtual colonoscopy?

Typically, no anesthesia is given during this test so you can return to normal activities. You may feel bloated and may pass more gas than normal while your body gets rid of the gas that was put into your colon for the test. 

How do you receive the results of your virtual colonoscopy?

Following the procedure, the provider will usually discuss their findings with you before you are sent home. 

References

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2016. Found at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/virtual-colonoscopy

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