Computed Tomography (CT) Colonography is a minimally invasive exam to screen for cancer of the large intestine, also known as colon cancer. Colon cancer is common, affecting about 1 in 20 people.

In most cases, symptoms of colon cancer, such as persistent abdominal pain, rectal bleeding or blood in the stool, don’t appear until the disease is in its advanced stages.

CT colonography is an option to consider to screen for colon cancer. Diagnostic Imaging Services recommends discussing colon cancer screening options with your doctor or medical provider to determine whether CT colonography is a viable option for you.

Typically, CT colonography may be used to screen for colon cancer in people who are at least 50 years of age and at average risk for the disease. Some people with an increased risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer, may need to start screening sooner.

Why would your doctor or medical provider suggest CT colonography as being appropriate for you? Some reasons include:

  • You are reluctant to have a traditional optical colonoscopy.
  • You are at risk of traditional colonoscopy complications such as excess bleeding if your blood doesn’t clot normally.
  • You have a bowel obstruction.
  • You do not have a history of colon cancer or abnormal tissue clumps, known as polyps, in your colon.
  • You do not have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps.
  • You do not have Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis.
  • You do not have Acute Diverticulitis.

Studies have shown that CT colonography has detection rates similar to traditional colonoscopy for cancer and most types of polyps. Some polyps, including small ones, may be less likely to be detected with CT colonography.

Because CT colonography involves imaging the entire abdominal and pelvic area, problems unrelated to colon cancer such as an abnormality in the kidney, liver or pancreas that may or may not be important could potentially be detected. This may lead to additional testing.

A screening Virtual CT Colonography is covered by most health insurance plans, with the exception of Medicare and Managed Medicare plans. The age requirement to undergo this screening is 50 years of age or above.

The DIS patient relations and communications department can assist in verifying benefits or people can also check with their health insurance benefits provider to see if the screening is covered by their plan.