Virtual colonoscopies, done with scanners that create a three-dimensional image of the intestinal wall, are just as effective in detecting advanced polyps as the more invasive traditional colonoscopy, a recent study found.
The University of Wisconsin Medical School study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, compared virtual colonoscopies of 3 120 adults with an average age of 57, and the traditional colonoscopies of 3 163 adults with an average age of 58.
Identify cancerous tumours
The latter exam is routinely recommended in patients over 50 years of age to locate intestinal polyps and to remove them, aiming to stop the spread of cancer. Colon cancer is among the deadliest forms of the disease. It kills 55 000 people a year in the United States alone.
Traditional colonoscopies are normally performed under general anaesthetic, with a thin flexible tube called a colonoscope inserted through the anus to explore the intestines.
Biopsies and many abnormal growths can be taken out during the procedure which requires the patient to first drink four litres of liquid.
Virtual colonoscopy requires some injection of air. The removal of any polyps found requires a separate procedure. – (Sapa/AFP)
Virtual colonoscopy finds cancer
Virtual colonoscopy shows promise