Virtual colonoscopy

CT colonoscopy

A CT colonoscopy — or virtual colonoscopy — is a minimally-invasive way of checking for colon diseases and colon cancer

About

A CT (computed tomography) colonoscopy is a minimally-invasive test which uses CT scans to check your colon (bowel) for diseases. It does this by creating detailed computer 'models' of your colon, which is why it's sometimes called a 'virtual colonoscopy'. As well as helping to identity problems in your colon, CT colonoscopies can also play a role in detecting colon cancer early.

One advantage of a CT colonoscopy is that it can look beyond the colon and into the pelvis and abdomen. As such, it can help to identify significant problems in other organs.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    You'll be asked to change into a gown when you arrive at the hospital. Your radiologist will explain the scan and answer your questions. They'll then insert a cannula (thin tube) into a vein in your arm or in the back of your hand. They'll use this to inject an X-ray dye and then a relaxant into your bowel. You'll be asked to lie on your left side on a table. Your radiologist will then insert a small tube into your back passage, so they can fill your bowel with air or carbon dioxide so that it is easier view on our computer. You'll then pass under the CT scan a few times, while images are taken of your bowel.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Depending on your consultant's instructions, your bowel may need to be emptied before the test. If this is the case, you'll most likely be put on a special diet for a few days leading up to your scan. You may also be asked to take a special laxative on the day before your test. This will help to show the inside of your bowel in greater detail. It will of course lead to diarrhoea, so we recommend staying near a toilet on the day prior to your scan.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    You may experience some bloating, stomach pain or flatulence after the scan, but this is normal and should pass shortly. Your radiologist will let you know when you can go home. The results of your scan will be sent to your GP or consultant. They will explain them to you and let you know if you require any further tests or treatments.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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