Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis in the U.S for both men and women. Although it’s a serious health risk, less than half of people 50 and older get a colonoscopy. Why is this?
Simply put, people don’t want to go through an uncomfortable and awkward procedure.
Optical colonoscopy’s greatest downfall
People are potentially risking their life to avoid participation in a quick, yet awkward and sometimes embarrassing procedure. Yes, optical colonoscopy has a track record. Yes, it offers excellent diagnosis. However, it’s an invasive procedure that can come with complications and a big price tag.
Optical colonoscopy can be anxiety-inducing. Image credit: Shutterstock
Optical colonoscopy has been the traditional test for evaluation of the colon. Although not necessarily time-consuming, it is uncomfortable and somewhat humiliating. Knowing the value of this procedure can sometimes blind us to the fact that people would go out of their way to avoid it, however, this is a large risk we must take into account in the diagnosis and prevention of colon cancer.
The virtues of virtual colonoscopy
Virtual colonoscopy or computed tomographic colonography (CTC) uses helical computed tomography (CT) data to produce three dimensional images therefore creating a virtual view of the colon.
It was first introduced in 1994 and has gone through several years of development, validation, and clinical trials. Additionally, it has proven to be a well-established technique for evaluation of the colon, and has been endorsed by many organizations including the American Cancer Society.
Virtual colonoscopy can show you all you need to see without needing to invade the patient. Image credit: med.nyu.edu
Virtual colonoscopy capabilities include what we call virtual fly-through: CT scanners with ultra-low radiation doses use special visualization software to show the colonic surface.
The combination of the 2D and 3D imaging capabilities complement each other, for example, when detecting polyps, especially those in folds! 2D helps confirm the lesion identified on the 3D image—whether it is a true polyp or a lipoma.
Concerns regarding radiation dose in general are not applicable to virtual colonoscopy. The doses are so low that they are similar to what the general U.S population is exposed to in one year outside of any medical procedure.
The switch to virtual colonoscopy would be a good one.
It’s cost effective to your facility (also covered by most insurance companies)
It increases patient comfort.
When more than 50 percent of patients are not getting their colonoscopy as suggested, something needs to change. With virtual colonoscopy more people will get their colonoscopy’s as recommended by eliminating the awkward invasiveness of a traditional colonoscopy. And that is a win for healthcare in America.
This post was written by Allie Robinson, a content writer and regulation specialist at Novarad.
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