A virtual colonoscopy, or Computed Tomography (CT) colonography examines the large intestine for cancer or growths using x-ray equipment.
Learn how to prepare for CT Colonography and what to expect before, during and after the procedure.
Before the Procedure
Consult your physician regarding dietary restrictions and instructions for preparing for the CT Colonography. Women should always inform their radiologist if there is any possibility they may be pregnant. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. Metal objects, including jewelry, eyeglasses and dentures, may affect the CT images and should be left at home.
You will be given a gown to wear and asked to remove jewelry, hearing aids and removable dental work. Women will be asked to remove bras containing metal underwire.
Depending on the type of cardiac CT you are receiving, you may be given a medicine, either by mouth or IV, to slow your heart rate.
During the Procedure
A large majority of patients may feel pressure on their colon when it is inflated for the examination. The pressure may feel like the need to pass gas, and significant pain is uncommon. The scanning process itself causes no symptoms or pain.
The table will move quickly through the CT scanner, a large machine with a hollow, circular tube in the middle, to determine the correct starting position for the scans. Then the table will move slowly through the machine as the CT scan takes pictures of different parts of your body. X-ray beams and detectors rotate around to measure the amount of radiation absorbed throughout your body. The scans are sent to a special computer which processes the data to create two-dimensional images of your body, which are then displayed on a monitor.
You will be alone in the room during the CT scan. Sometimes a parent may stay in the room with their child. However, the technologist will always be able to see, hear and speak with you through an intercom system.
Patients may be asked to hold their breath for small moments while images are recorded. The entire scan is usually completed within 10 minutes.
After the Procedure
When the exam is complete, you will be asked to wait until the technologist verifies that the images are of high enough quality for accurate interpretation. Once this has been confirmed, you can return to your normal activities.
After the images have been interpreted, your radiologist or referring physician will discuss the findings with you. Depending on the results of the CT scan, additional tests or procedures may be scheduled to gather further diagnostic information.