Leading gastrointestinal radiologist discusses CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy). What exactly is virtual colonoscopy? How does virtual colonoscopy help to find early colorectal cancer?
Let's start the discussion with virtual colonoscopy definition. Dr. Anton Titov, MD. Colon cancer is the second most common cancer in the world. Almost 1.5 million people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year. Yet colon cancer is entirely preventable if everyone was screened for colorectal cancer. Dr. Anton Titov, MD. Today, virtual colonoscopy is becoming colon cancer screening method of choice. It is also called computed tomography colonography, or CT colonography. Dr. Anton Titov, MD. You are one of the world's foremost experts on virtual colonoscopy. What is virtual colonoscopy? How can it help in effective screening for colorectal cancer? Dr. Perry Pickhardt, MD. Sure! As you pointed out, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Unlike the other major cancer killers, it is largely preventable. You prevent colon cancer through prevention and screening. Prevention is detection of precancerous lesions. CT colonography, CTC. Virtual colonoscopy, VC. I will use those terms interchangeably. It is really nothing more than a CT scan with a twist. Dr. Perry Pickhardt, MD. The patient has undergone some form of bowel preparation and colonic distention. The bowel preparation is generally a low volume bowel preparation. It is much better tolerated than the typical colonoscopy bowel preparation. The bowel distention is done with carbon dioxide. It is very safe and low pressure bowel distention. The CT scans are performed in a breath-hold. After that the patient's part is done. Dr. Perry Pickhardt, MD. They can basically go back to their regular activities. At that point the CT images are sent to a specialized visualization system. It is called CT colonography software system. We fly through the colon. We do a number of 2D and 3D imaging methods to look for polyps and cancers. Dr. Anton Titov, MD. Virtual colonoscopy is quite easy and straightforward. How does Virtual Colonoscopy Work? Virtual colonoscopy (CT Colonography or CT Pneumocolon) is the best screening method for colorectal cancer. Virtual colonoscopy also detects cancers outside large bowel. virtual colonoscopy vs regular colonoscopy can provide better patient experience and less inconvenience before and during the procedure.