A new test, a virtual colonoscopy, uses CT scan technology to visualize the colon. The major benefit of the virtual colonoscopy is that it’s a non-invasive procedure.
An alternative to traditional colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy (VC) is the newest screening test for colorectal cancer. VC was developed at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Virtual colonoscopy uses a helical CT scanner to take images of the colon. Special computer software converts this information into a three-dimensional image of the colon that a radiologist can scan for abnormal growths.
Currently, virtual colonoscopy is most accurate at ruling out cancer and abnormal growths. This is most important because 80 percent of adult patients do not have significant polyps. If an abnormality is found, the patient also undergoes a traditional colonoscopy, in which a flexible fiber-optic tube is inserted into the colon.Virtual colonoscopy is still in its early development so long-term data for accuracy is not available. Studies do show, however, that it is important to have a virtual colonoscopy procedure done at a center that has physicians experienced in performing the procedure and evaluating the results.