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Study Reviews Pros and Cons of Virtual Colonoscopy

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Updated: June 2, 2007

Virtual colonoscopy provides a way to look inside your colon and rectum without actually having to go inside them. Doctors can use virtual colonoscopy to check for polyps, cancer, and other abnormalities. The procedure is considered "virtual" because it relies on a computer program to generate a 3-D picture of your large intestine using a bunch of X-ray images.

As cool as it sounds, it's a relatively new method (1994) and there's still debate over when it's appropriate to use virtual colonoscopy in lieu of more conventional colon cancer screening methods like colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, and/or a fecal occult blood test.

A study published in Surgical Innovation weighed in on the debate, ultimately declaring that virtual colonoscopy cannot replace conventional colonoscopy, but it's still useful and preferable in certain situations.

If you're due for screening and are considering virtual colonoscopy, your doctor should be able to explain whether it would be a good option for you.

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Source: Torres, C. and Szomstein, S. "Virtual Colonoscopy in Colorectal Cancer Screening." Surgical Innovation 14.1 (2007): 27-34. Accessed 21 Apr. 2007 [http://sri.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/14/1/27?ct=ct].

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