Department of Radiology: Virtual Colonoscopy FAQ
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Q. What is a Virtual Colonoscopy?
A. CT (or computerized tomography) is used to perform a Virtual Colonoscopy. CT is a valuablediagnostic tool that combines computerized technology with a focused X-ray beam thatpasses through the body at various angles, producing clear, cross-sectional images of thepart of the body being examined. A Virtual Colonoscopy is a procedure that examines the colon utilizing conventional CT techniques. Similar to having a barium enema or a
conventional colonoscopy, patients undergoing a Virtual Colonoscopy must be prepped
before hand to initiate cleansing of the colon. This procedure is safe, fast, and painless.
Q. Why have a Virtual Colonoscopy?
A. A Virtual Colonoscopy is recommended for patients who do not want to undergo a
conventional colonoscopy. It is also a good alternative for patients who have difficult
colonoscopic examinations in which the colon cannot be entirely visualized. This is a
relatively new procedure, which although controversial, is gaining more acceptance within
the medical community. The issue regards the diagnosis of polyps and how large or small
they are when identified on CT. A conventional colonoscopy is still considered the gold
standard since it can detect smaller polyps that are not identified with a CT scan. Patients
who undergo a Virtual Colonoscopy and have polyps identified will still have to undergo a
conventional colonoscopy to have them removed and biopsied. It is recommended that Patients meet with their physician or gastroenterologist and discuss this procedure before proceeding. A prescription from an internist or gastroenterologist is required.
Q. Why come to the Medical Center for a Virtual Colonoscopy?
A. Englewood Hospital and Medical Center's state-of-the-art, high-speed spiral CT scanners
perform faster scans and decrease the time required in getting your doctor a report. With the
addition of a new multi-detector CT scanner, patients at Englewood have the advantage of a
scanner that is eight times faster than conventional CT technology and therefore the amount
of time it takes to complete a scan is reduced. Our CT scanner also helps those patients who
have difficulty staying still or holding their breath (e.g. accident victims, critically ill, and
The Medical Center offers the latest diagnostic facilities and a highly trained and specialized
staff, including Board Certified and Fellowship trained radiologists who interpret the studies.
Our caring staff understands patient anxieties and goes the extra mile to make the procedure
as comfortable as possible. The CT Department is recognized as an accredited site by the
American College of Radiology.
Q. What can I expect during the procedure?
A. The procedure is fast and painless. The day before the procedure, the Patient will prepare by cleansing the colon, usually by ingesting a Fleets phosphosoda. The next day, the Patient
comes to the Medical Center for the procedure. The examination begins by insertion of a
rectal tube that injects air to distend the colon. Once the air is inserted, the patient will
2 undergo imaging by both lying on their back and stomach. The CT scan produces images in
very thin slices of the colon that our Radiologists analyze to determine the presence of
polyps. Patients may be asked to remain very still and hold their breath while the actual
images are being made. Scanning usually takes no more than 2-3 minutes. The whole
procedure usually lasts 15 minutes.
Q. How do I prepare for a Virtual Colonoscopy?
A. As stated above, patients must be prepped ahead of time similar to having a conventional
• Wear comfortable clothing.
• Fast 12 hours prior to scan.
Q. What if I still have questions about Virtual Colonoscopy?
A. For more information, call the Department of Radiology at 201-894-3400.