Health Watch - Digestive Tract: Virtual Colonoscopy

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about the digestive tract. A colonoscopy is one of the best tools in the fight against colon cancer, but many people avoid them because of embarrassment or fear of discomfort. There is an easier alternative, though.

While a colonoscopy is accurate for finding changes in the colon that could lead to cancer, it requires sedation as a scope is inserted into the colon. Patients who are reluctant to have a colonoscopy should consider a virtual colonoscopy. This test uses computerized tomography and virtual reality computer software to create a three-dimensional image of the inside of the colon. Dr. Cecelia Brewington, a radiologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says this procedure is nearly as accurate as a conventional colonoscopy, takes only about 15 minutes and doesn’t require sedation. However, this procedure isn’t recommended for patients who have previously had polyps or colon cancer.

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April 2010


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