The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women and men undergo screening for colon cancer or polyps beginning at age 45. Colorectal cancer screening makes it possible to earlier detect abnormalities in the colon or rectum and remove them, usually with just surgery, before they progress or spread to other parts of the body, which could require treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy. CT Colonography is an innovative, less-invasive method of screening that allows a radiologist to see within the colon with images from an x-ray machine.

What is a CT Colonography?

A computed tomography (CT) scan produces images of the inside of the body, similar to an x-ray. CT Colonography, also known as a virtual colonoscopy, makes it possible for a radiologist to view the interior of the colon using only low-dose radiation, rather than the more invasive other procedures that are used to view the colon, such as a colonoscopy or endoscopy.

 Who needs a CT Colonography?

As mentioned, screening for colorectal cancer is recommended by the American Cancer Society for both men and women after the age of 45, but often sooner for some people. People with certain risk factors should talk to their doctor about early screening. Risk factors include direct relatives who have had the disease or if you have other diseases that research has shown are connected to colorectal cancer.

What is a CT Colonography used for?

CT colonography allow doctors and radiologists to screen for polyps (growths that occur in the inner lining of the intestine) or abnormalities that are indicative of cancer in the colon or rectum. Polyps are growths that arise from the inner lining of the intestine. The goal of CT colonography screening is to discover these issues early, before cancer has developed so that they can treat the issue before it becomes a problem. Risk factors for the disease include a history of polyps or having a family history of colon cancer.

What can I expect during a CT procedure?

During your CT Colonography, you will be asked to lie extremely still on a table as it passed through a tunnel-like machine. You may hear gentle sounds of whooshing or whirring during the procedure. In some cases, your radiologist may ask you to hold your breath as to achieve the most detailed and sharp images.

What are the benefits of a CT Colonography?

Like other screening methods for colorectal cancer, CT Colongraphy allows doctors and radiologist to detect abnormalities and treat issues more early. A CT Colonography makes it possible for colorectal specialists to still obtain detailed images of the colon to diagnose colorectal cancer even if their patient cannot physically endure being put under anesthesia for another procedure, whether due to age or other health complications.

Colorectal cancer screening saves lives each year. It’s important to know your risk factors and begin screening at the appropriate time. CT Colonography is a wonderful alternative to other more invasive methods of screening. Talk to your doctor or radiologist to discuss whether a CT Colonography is right for you.