A colon scan may refer to either a virtual colonoscopy (otherwise called CT colonography) or a regular colonoscopy. However, there’s so much to unpack if you are trying to understand what a colon scan is like. And this quest for adequate understanding begs answers to questions like, “What is a virtual colonoscopy?” or “How do you prepare for a colon scan? and even “Are virtual colonoscopies accurate?”
Finding answers to these salient questions will help you understand the benefits and risks of a colon scan and the differences between a virtual colonoscopy and a regular colonoscopy.
This article will give you details that’ll help you with all you need to know about a virtual colonoscopy and the reasons to get one.
What is a Virtual Colonoscopy?
A virtual colonoscopy is a less-invasive exam that medical professionals perform to get a clear view of your large intestine (i.e., your colon and rectum). Your doctor can order a virtual colonoscopy to detect if there are small growths known as polyps or any other abnormalities in your colon and rectum.
For various reasons, virtual colonoscopies are fast becoming a preferred alternative to regular/traditional colonoscopies, some of which include it being less invasive, more comprehensive, and having fewer complications.
Why is a Virtual Colonoscopy Done?
As earlier mentioned, the primary reason a doctor would perform a CT scan of the colon is to give a clear view of your large intestine, i.e., your colon and rectum.
A virtual colonoscopy takes less time to complete than a conventional colonoscopy, and the risk of harming your large intestine through the procedure is also lower. It’s beneficial all the way around.
What are the Benefits of a CT Scan of the Colon?
A CT scan of the colon has several benefits, especially over a regular colonoscopy. These benefits include the following:
- It is less invasive and produces images that show polyps or any other abnormality as clearly as a traditional colonoscopy.
- There’s a lesser risk of harming your large intestine during the procedure.
- There’s no need for a medical professional to sedate during the procedure, which is typical of a regular colonoscopy.
- Beneficial for elderly patients as it’s easier to tolerate a CT Scan colonoscopy than a conventional colonoscopy.
- It is a better alternative for patients with clinical factors such as a breathing problem that may increase their risk of developing complications from colonoscopy.
- It is an ideal option when a patient has a bowel obstruction that would otherwise make a conventional colonoscopy impossible.
- Virtual colonoscopy is cheaper than traditional colonoscopy.
How is a Virtual Colonoscopy Done?
The procedure for virtual colonoscopy is different from a traditional colonoscopy, where your doctor typically inserts a scope into your rectum. Instead, professionals complete a CT scan of the colon by producing several images of your abdominal organs for virtual colonoscopies. They then combine these images to give a detailed view of your colon and rectum.
The detailed and straightforward procedure for a virtual colonoscopy goes like this:
- The CT Technologist positions you on the CT exam table, lying flat on your back. (You remain still during the procedure, and you may have to use straps and pillows to provide balance.)
- A tiny and flexible tube, about two inches, would be passed into your rectum, and air is pumped gently into your colon with a hand-held squeeze bulb or an electric pump. This helps to inflate your colon and eliminate any fold that may hide polyps.
- The table is moved through the scanner to capture images. You’ll then have to turn over for a second pass through the scanner. (You may need to hold your breath for a few seconds.)
- A medical professional removes the tube after the scan finishes.
In most cases, the entire exam lasts just about 15 minutes.
How Should I Prepare for a CT Colon scan?
When preparing for a CT colon scan, it is essential to empty your colon because any residue may obscure images during the scan. The different ways you can empty your colon before the CT scan include:
- Take a laxative the night before your exam.
- Limit drinks you take to clear liquids the day before your exam. Clear liquids include water, clear coffee or tea, strained fruit juices, and gelatin.
- In some cases, the doctor may advise you not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the exam.
- If you are on certain medications, you should indicate them because you may have to stop using certain medications before your CT scan of colon.
- You may also be advised to use certain medications to differentiate a colon abnormality from stool residue.
After the CT scan of the colon, you can immediately go back to your usual activities. However, note that it’s possible to feel bloated or pass gas for a couple of hours after your exam in some cases. It’s no reason to panic as that’s your body clearing out any residual air or gas from your colon.
Which is Better: A Virtual Colonoscopy or a Regular Colonoscopy?
There’s generally no wrong or correct answer as to which is better between a virtual colonoscopy and a regular colonoscopy. Virtual colonoscopies and regular colonoscopies effectively identify polyps and reduce your risk of cancer. The better option for you would usually be a matter of preference.
For instance, if you prefer that the doctor does not sedate you during a procedure, probably because you need to drive after, a virtual colonoscopy is a better alternative.
Another factor is the time it takes to complete the scan and your risk level. You may be at average risk of colon cancer and are reluctant to get a conventional colonoscopy.
Also, some medical conditions would make it impossible for you to get a regular colonoscopy, in which case the only choice would be the virtual colonoscopy.
Let’s check out some differences between a regular colonoscopy and a virtual colonoscopy.
Differences Between A Virtual Colonoscopy and a Regular Colonoscopy
- A virtual colonoscopy can view your colon from several angles, but this isn’t easy with conventional colonoscopy.
- You don’t need to be sedated for a virtual colonoscopy and can easily return to your usual activities after the exam. However, for a conventional colonoscopy, you would have to be sedated.
- Virtual colonoscopies cannot detect polyps smaller than 7 to 8 mm, but conventional colonoscopies can detect all polyps.
Is a Virtual Colonoscopy Painful?
A virtual colonoscopy should ordinarily come with no pain. Although you may experience discomfort as air is being pumped into your colon. However, this isn’t as painful as the procedure for traditional colonoscopy.
How Accurate is a CT Scan Colonoscopy?
For polyps greater than 7 to 8 mm, a CT scan colonoscopy is as accurate as a conventional colonoscopy. However, the CT scan may not be as precise as the traditional colonoscopy for smaller polyps.
What are the Possible Results of a CT Scan Colonoscopy?
Craft Body Scan doesn’t diagnose cancer. We only carry out the tests that would help your doctors determine if there are abnormalities in your colon. However, the image may reveal any of the following:
- Your colon has polyps or any other abnormalities. Based on the number or size of the polyps, your doctor may recommend a conventional colonoscopy to get samples of the abnormal tissues or remove the polyps.
- The images may reveal no polyps or any other abnormalities in your colon. The doctor may recommend you repeat the exam after some years, depending on your risk factors.
- The images may detect some issues outside your colon, such as your kidneys or liver. Depending on the findings, you may need another test to determine the problem.
Generally, your doctor is in the best position to recommend what to do, having reviewed your results.
How Expensive is a Virtual Colonoscopy?
At Craft Body Scan, our virtual colonoscopies cost $1,980. It includes the cost of examining your colon for abnormalities and polyps, your colonic abdominal section, and your wall girth.
You need to check in with your health insurance provider to determine if your coverage extends to virtual colonoscopy for colon cancer screening.
Why Choose Craft Body Scan for Your Virtual Colonoscopy?
Craft Body Scan’s services include virtual colonoscopies that detect even minor abnormalities. It goes a long way in detecting cancer long before you start to see the symptoms. Remember, early detection significantly increases the chances of successfully treating cancer.
Click the link below if you are ready to schedule your virtual colonoscopy.