What you need to know about:

Virtual colonoscopy (CT Scan)

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Overview of

Virtual colonoscopy (CT Scan)

in Thailand

A Virtual Colonoscopy is the examination of colon and rectum using computed tomography [CT] or magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] through the abdomen. The software creates a both 2D and 3D virtual images of the colon with minute details without the need for insertion of the colonoscope through the anus. The accuracy of virtual colonoscopy highly depends on colon preparation. Limited consumption of food and use of a laxative to clear up the colon are necessary for clear images for computer analysis. Besides producing virtual images, the procedure can help the doctor screen for polyps within the colon. Virtual colonoscopy and provide an instant and accurate diagnosis similar to that produced by traditional colonoscopy.

Goals of

Virtual colonoscopy (CT Scan)

A virtual colonoscopy is used to screen for colon cancer and polyps in the colon and rectum that appear abnormal as well as detecting diverticulosis. A virtual colonoscopy can provide 3D reconstructed endoluminal views of the bowel. It can also provide a secondary benefit of revealing diseases or abnormalities outside the colon. Abnormalities including; internal bleeding, polyps, tumours, colorectal cancer and divertiulosis can all be detected.

Price of

Virtual colonoscopy (CT Scan)

Average Cost

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Pros and cons of

Virtual colonoscopy (CT Scan)

Pros

-Takes less time - a virtual colonoscopy takes around 10-15 minutes while a conventional colonoscopy takes between 15 to 60 minutes.

-Less invasive — Your doctor will insert a tube in your rectum and colon. But, it be shorter than the tube used for a colonoscopy.

-Fewer complications — A virtual colonoscopy has less risk of colon tearing, or perforation, than a conventional colonoscopy. You won’t have to worry as much about bleeding or tearing of the colon.

-More comprehensive — Your doctor can see the area outside the colon. This makes it possible to spot other problems in the pelvis area.

-There is no need for sedatives  

Cons

-A virtual colonoscopy isn’t as sensitive as a conventional colonoscopy for finding smaller polyps.

-Your doctor can’t remove a tissue sample or polyp using a virtual colonoscopy. If a tissue sample is needed, you’ll need to have a conventional colonoscopy.

-Follow-up colonoscopy — If your doctor sees a polyp or anything else unusual during your virtual colonoscopy, you’ll need to get a traditional colonoscopy to remove the polyp or perform a biopsy. This will be an additional test that your insurer will consider a diagnostic test, not a screening exam.

-Radiation exposure — A Virtual colonoscopy exposes you to a low dose of radiation. You’ll be exposed to more radiation than a chest X-ray, but far less than a regular CT scan.

How it works:

Virtual colonoscopy (CT Scan)

A virtual colonoscopy is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. You will not need to check into the hospital and can leave the same day as the test. You are not required to be sedated either. The test takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. If you’re having a CT virtual colonoscopy, you may be asked to drink a liquid contrast agent. In some cases, you may take the contrast in pill form at home. A thin, flexible tube will be placed into your rectum. For CT procedures, room air or carbon dioxide is slowly pumped into the tube to inflate your rectum and allow for closer examination. For MRI exams, a contrast agent that’s given rectally is used to enlarge the area. The table you’re lying on will slide into the CT or MRI machine which will take several scans of your organs.

Preparation before

Virtual colonoscopy (CT Scan)

Pre - treatment

To help your doctor get the clearest images, your colon and rectum must be emptied before a virtual colonoscopy. To do this, you’ll have to:  

-Follow a clear liquid diet for 1 to 3 days before the exam.

-Avoid eating or drinking anything the night before the exam.

-Take a strong laxative, and possibly a suppository, to help clear your bowels.

-Take a contrast agent in pill form at home.

-Tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking at least 1 week before the exam. This allows time for your doctor to make any necessary changes to your medication schedule.

Recovery after

Virtual colonoscopy (CT Scan)

Post - treatment

After the exam, you’ll be able to release the gas in the restroom and you may return to work or normal activities after the exam. Your doctor will contact you regarding your results

Risks & side effects

The virtual colonoscopy is a relatively new screening tool. There appears to be few risks associated with a virtual colonoscopy. These are some of the associated risks:  

-The air released into your colon may make you feel bloated, but the feeling should dissipate once you pass the air from your body.  

-Reaction to contrast agent - symptoms can include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, constipation, hives, allergic reactions, bluish skin colour, difficulty in breathing and increased heart rate.  

-Reaction to radiation - this may include; fatigue, hair loss, and changes to the skin.

FAQs:

Virtual colonoscopy (CT Scan)

Which is the more definite diagnostic tool between a virtual colonoscopy and a conventional colonoscopy?  

A conventional colonoscopy is the gold standard for diagnosing lesion within the colon and rectum. It allows doctors to see lesions that are inside of you clearly. If the doctor sees a polyp or anything else unusual during your virtual colonoscopy, you’ll need to get a conventional colonoscopy to remove the polyp or perform a biopsy.

Since colonoscopies require doctors to insert the endoscope up the anus, will I experience anything similar in a virtual colonoscopy?  

Answer:  Yes, a thin tube will still need to be placed into your rectum. This is done in order to pump room air or carbon dioxide your rectum to inflate it. For MRI virtual colonoscopies, a contrast agent will be administered rectally to enlarge the area and allow your insides to be visualized on the scan.

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