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Virtual Colonoscopy

VCVirtual colonoscopy or (VC) uses x rays and computers to produce two- and three-dimensional images of the colon (large intestine) from the lowest part, the rectum, all the way to the lower end of the small intestine at the ileocecal valve, and displays them on a screen. The procedure is used to diagnose colon and bowel disease, including polyps, diverticulosis, and cancer. VC is performed with multiple detector computed tomography or (MDCT), sometimes called a CAT scan.

The VC Procedure

While preparations for VC vary, you will usually be asked to take laxatives or other oral agents at home the day before the procedure to clear stool from your colon. You may also be asked to use a suppository to cleanse your rectum of any remaining fecal matter. The examination takes about 10 minutes and does not require sedatives. The following will then take place,

National CT Colonography Trial Video from the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN).

Advantages of VC

VC is more comfortable than conventional colonoscopy for some people because it does not use a colonoscope. As a result, no sedation is needed, and you can return to your usual activities or go home after the procedure without the aid of another person. VC provides clearer, more detailed images than a conventional x ray using a barium enema, sometimes called a lower gastrointestinal (GI) series. It also takes less time than either a conventional colonoscopy or a lower GI series.

Disadvantages of VC

The doctor cannot take tissue samples or remove polyps during VC, so a conventional colonoscopy must be performed if abnormalities are found. Also, VC will be limited if the patient doesn't follow their bowel prep instructions.

Colorectal Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. (However, in almost all cases, early diagnosis can lead to a complete cure.)

There is no single cause for colon cancer. Nearly all colon cancers begin as benign polyps, which slowly develop into cancer.

You have a higher risk for colon cancer if you have:

CT Virtual Colonoscopy Prep (PDF)


Virtual Colonoscopy Technologist (406) 327-3950

If you need to reschedule for any reason please call (406) 327-3953

If you have an urgent concern after normal business hours, please contact your primary care doctor.

If you are in need of immediate help, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.

Related Documents

Conventional Colonoscopy:

In a conventional colonoscopy, the doctor inserts a colonoscope—a long, flexible, lighted tube—into the patient's rectum and slowly guides it up through the colon. Pain medication and a mild sedative are given to help the patient stay relaxed and comfortable during the 30- to 60-minute procedure. A tiny camera in the scope transmits an image of the lining of the colon, so the doctor can examine it on a video monitor. If an abnormality is detected, the doctor can remove it or take tissue samples using tiny instruments passed through the scope. Conventional colonoscopy is not performed at AI.






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