What is Virtual Colonoscopy?
CT Virtual Colonoscopy (CTVC) is a recent advancement in imaging the bowel and has been shown in multiple studies to be a reliable low risk imaging test in diagnosis and staging of colorectal cancer, and the detection of polyps.
Is it safe?
The effective radiation dose from this procedure is about 5 mSv, which is about the same as the average person receives from background radiation in 20 months.
You should inform the radiographer if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.
Is there any preparation?
Your colon must be completely empty of food residue. This is achieved by following a restricted diet and taking bowel cleansing medicines (laxatives). You will be given a preparation sheet when you make your appointment.
What will happen to me?
You will need to change into an examination gown. The entire examination is performed with minimal discomfort in around 15 minutes.
Previously barium or other liquid bowel contrast was needed; but with CTVC only carbon dioxide (CO²) is used. This is delivered via a tube placed in the rectum and quickly absorbed from the bowel at the end of the procedure. You will be asked to lie on the CT couch and the tube will be placed inside your rectum; a balloon on the end of the tube will help keep the CO² inside.
The radiographer will ask you to move to lie in different positions, on your side, back or front. Imaging will start once your bowel is adequately filled with CO². The CT couch will slowly move through the scanner, nothing will touch you and you will not feel anything when we take the scans. You will be given instructions to lie still and briefly hold your breath; this prevents movement during the scan.
As soon as the scan is completed, the radiographer will remove the tube and the CO² will be quickly absorbed. You will be able to go to the toilet at this point if you feel the need to and once you have dressed will be free to go. You are welcome to stay a few minutes and enjoy a hot drink.
Where can I get a CTVC?
What does it cost?
Our prices page has a downloadable price list. Costs vary depending on exactly what is involved in the procedure. Please phone our Call Centre (04 978 5500) for more information.