An Easier Prep for Virtual Colonoscopies
Patients undergoing a virtual colonoscopy will no longer have to drink gallons of laxative, according to a new program at the Mayo Clinic.
Under the new procedure, patients undergoing a CT colonoscopy (also called a virtual colonoscopy or colonography) just take four tablets of bisacodyl, a cleansing agent.
In announcing the new procedure, Daniel C. Johnson, M.D., chair of the Radiology Department at Mayo in Arizona, said the goal was to make the preparation period for the test easier on patients. “Our hope is that this will make people less anxious and more likely to get screened and will ultimately result in fewer deaths from colorectal cancer," he said in a statement.
In a virtual colonoscopy, a CT scan provides a three-dimensional image of the colon and rectum. In a regular colononscopy, a camera is inserted into the body. Both types of tests require that the bowels be empty, and until now, the preparation for the two procedures has been the same.
Virtual colonoscopies have a high accuracy rate in detecting intermediate and large polyps; an estimated 12 percent of patients who undergo virtual tests need to then have a regular colonoscopy to remove the growth.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and despite the benefits of colorectal screening, a majority of those over 50 have not had the procedure.