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Before your appointment for a CT, please print and complete the Patient Procedure Screening Form.
Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging provides CT colonography exams at Mass General, Mass General Imaging - Waltham and Mass General Imaging - Chelsea. No matter which facility you come to, our staff places priority on making your journey through the imaging process comfortable, safe, and successful. All images are read by a radiologist with specialty expertise in the area of the body being studied.
CT colonography overview:
Patients and referring physicians should be aware that most insurance providers do not yet cover CT colonography for routine screening. Patients should expect to pay out-of-pocket unless a provider confirms coverage prior to the exam.
CT colonography in depth
What is CT colonography?
A CT (computed tomography) scan is a noninvasive medical test that uses special X-ray equipment to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body and a computer to join them together in cross-sectional views of the area being studied. CT scans provide greater clarity than conventional X-ray exams.
A CT colonography exam is a special type of CT scan that examines the colon and then uses the cross-sectional views to create a 3D view. CT colonography is designed to be easily tolerated by patients. The entire exam can be completed within twenty minutes, and most patients report that it causes little or no discomfort.
Colon cancer usually develops within benign growths called polyps, which arise from the colon wall. If polyps are detected early, removing them stops the development of cancer. A polyp can form at any time throughout life, but most commonly occurs in people over the age of 50. Most polyps grow slowly, and the risk that cancer will be found in a polyp is substantial only for polyps greater than 6mm in size. If your CTC shows no polyps, we will recommend that you wait five years before having another CTC.
Recently the American Cancer Society endorsed CT colonography as a screening test for colorectal cancer. It is now considered to be a valuable alternative to endoscopy because it is less invasive and does not require sedation or time off from work.
CT examinations, including CT colonography, improve health care and are an essential part of diagnosis and treatment planning. However, there are some risks associated with the level of radiation exposure during a CT and therefore the medical benefit of conducting the exam should always outweigh any risks involved.
No direct data have shown that CT examinations are associated with an increased risk of cancer; extrapolations from studies of radiation exposure suggest there is a very small incremental risk.
At Mass General Imaging, we pay special attention to minimizing radiation exposure—without giving up image quality. Radiation reduction has long been a priority for our entire staff, including radiologists, the technologists who administer most exams, researchers, and equipment engineers. We use many strategies to reduce radiation exposure, from employing the latest technology to customizing exams for each patient.
What should I expect BEFORE my CT scan?
What will I experience DURING my CT colonography scan?
What should I expect AFTER my CT colonography scan?
Colorectal cancer is malignant cells found in the colon or rectum.
A new method of performing virtual colonoscopy using a CT scan - which does not involve the dreaded laxative preparation to clear the colon the night before - may be about as effective as a standard colonoscopy at identifying the large polyps most likely to become cancerous, according to research conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and elsewhere.
The point isn’t just to make life easier for people getting colonoscopies. It’s to help persuade them to get the test in the first place.
If you're turning 50 or you're already there, colorectal screening is in your future. Although you would only have to be screened every 10 years (if no polyps are found), the prospect of getting prepped for procedure is a big turn-off for many. You've probably heard some of the horror stories about the pre-screening laxatives, the taste, the amount, the ensuing "cleansing."
Eliminating the Need for Bowel Prep Could Spur More People to Get Screened for Colon Cancer.
Editorial by Mass General Imaging radiologist Michael Zalis, MD.
Dr. James H. Thrall, Department of Radiology chairman emeritus, discusses The Webster Center for Advanced Research and Education in Radiation, a unique research effort dedicated to reducing radiation dose for every exam Mass General Imaging performs.
As CT (computed tomography) technology has transformed the practice of medicine, Mass General Imaging has dedicated itself to making sure each exam exposes the patient to the lowest achievable amount of radiation. Department of Radiology Chairman Emeritus James H. Thrall, MD, discusses our decade-long commitment—and our success—regarding this issue.
One effective way to reduce radiation exposure is to avoid unnecessary exams. That's why Mass General Imaging has been a leader in developing software tools that guide referring physicians by not only making sure the selected exam matches the patient's needs but also suggesting radiation-free alternatives when appropriate.
Each radiologist at Mass General Imaging is a specialist in a particular area of the body. Department of Radiology Chairman Emeritus James H. Thrall, MD, explains how patients benefit from the additional specialty training our physicians have completed.
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