Procedures

Virtual Colonoscopy

Clinicians at the Massachusetts General Hospital Digestive Healthcare Center offer virtual colonoscopy, a leading-edge screening technique that detects colon cancer or polyps.

Virtual colonoscopy (also called CT colonography) involves using special computer programs to create:

  • Two-dimensional X-ray pictures
  • A three-dimensional fly-through view of the inside of your rectum and colon

The CT scanner takes many pictures as it rotates around you while you lie on a table. A computer then combines these pictures into images of the colon and rectum.

This test may be useful for some people who can't have or don't want to have tests in which a tube or scope is inserted into the colon or rectum. It can be done fairly quickly, and no sedation is necessary.

However, you still need to do the same type of bowel preparation. If polyps or other problems are seen on this test, a follow-up colonoscopy will likely be needed to remove them or to get a better look at them.

The cost of virtual colonoscopy is not generally covered by insurance plans, but patients should check with their individual plans to be sure.

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