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'Virtual colonoscopy' effective in finding most polyps but may miss small ones

ning on the prevention of colon cancer incidence or death.
  • Virtual colonoscopy is safer, although traditional colonoscopy has a very low rate of complications.
  • CT imaging reduces to almost nothing the chance that a colon exam cannot be completed, and it does find incidental conditions such as kidney stones and gall stones that would not be picked up by the older method.
  • Because the invasive colonoscopy is the standard by which all other screening methods are measured but is not perfect, there is a statistical chance that the findings underestimate the accuracy of the virtual colonoscopy.

    Most colon polyps are not cancerous or become malignant so slowly that an individual will die of other causes before colorectal cancer develops, according to the report. But those larger than 10 millimeters are more likely to become malignant. Between six millimeters and 10 millimeters, there was no statistically significant difference between the methods in the studies reviewed.

    "In some studies, patients who have undergone both conventional colonoscopy and CT colonography have expressed a preference for CT over the more invasive examination, but this does not necessarily mean they will accept one and not the other," according to the report.

    Patients might find advantages to each type of test.

    "CT is faster and noninvasive, but polyps can be diagnosed and removed during a single colonoscopy procedure, and patients may prefer being sedated for colonoscopy to being awake for CT," says Charles Turkelson, Ph.D., chief research analyst at ECRI.

    "Since colonoscopy can achieve both the diagnosis and removal of polyps during one procedure, some patients may prefer it to colonography because they will only have to undergo the required bowel cleansing preparation once rather than twice, for the diagnostic CT colonography and then again for any necessary polyp removal," Turkelson says.

    If CT colonography b
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  • Contact: Laurie Menyo
    610-825-6000
    Center for the Advancement of Health
    21-Apr-2005


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