Local Hospital Offers Virtual ColonoscopyPosted: Updated:
It's called virtual colonoscopy. Radiologists at Lewis County General Hospital say it's a newer technology in which they use a CT scanner to get a 3-D image of the colon.
"Essentially what we're doing is an internal view of the colon, similar to what you'd get with a colonoscopy. However, we don't have to go into the colon with a scope, which comes with an increase risk of perforation. We also don't have to put the patient under with anesthesia," said Rob Pfeiffer, director of radiology.
Another benefit is that patients can leave almost right after the 30 minute procedure is finished.
The radiologists still do have to inflate the colon with air, but the tube they use is flexible and smaller than a scope.
It's easier for the patient and easier for the doctor, too.
"You can see a lot more anatomy; with the other one you can kind of maybe infer that there may be a mass or legion there but in this one you can definitely see it. If there's a mass or cancer, you'll definitely see it," said Dr. Daryl Henderson, chief of radiology.
But virtual colonoscopy isn't for everyone. If you're at high risk for colon cancer, you should still get a regular colonoscopy.
You should also check to see if your insurance company will authorize it. Pfeiffer says some companies don't authorize it unless the patient has had trouble with a regular colonoscopy in the past.
Pfeiffer says the technology is allowing the hospital to screen more patients, who aren't able or don't want to have a regular colonoscopy.
"Colon cancer is so prevalent and there's so many people that aren't getting screened now, we wanted to offer one more avenue to screen patients in our community," said Pfeiffer.
After all, screenings can save lives.