Haven't Had Your Colonoscopy? Go Virtual!

Jun 26, 2017

Virtual Colonoscopy is an American Cancer Society recommended screening exam for colon cancer. It is an alternative to conventional colonoscopy. Virtual Colonoscopy uses a CAT scan to create images of the colon (large intestine) in order to look for polyps and cancer.

Colon cancer screening is recommended for average risk men and women age 50 and older. Colon cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in the US, but also the most treatable when diagnosed in early stages.

What is Virtual Colonoscopy?
A Virtual Colonoscopy examines the colon, as well as surrounding organs. To see everything during the screening exam, a colon-cleansing prep must be followed prior to the screening. The prep is similar to prep for a conventional colonoscopy.

Virtual Colonoscopy screening takes less than 30 minutes and does not require sedation. During Virtual Colonoscopy, a small catheter is inserted into the rectum in order to fill the colon with air; this allows the CAT scan to completely visualize the area. There is no scope that advances throughout the colon.

Afterward, you can drive and participate in your regular activities.


Virtual Screening. Real Results.
Virtual colonoscopy is as accurate as conventional colonoscopy for the detection of polyps 10mm and larger, and can identify polyps as small as 3 to 4 mm. Most people will have a negative screening (no polyps), and need to be screened again in five years.  If a polyp is found, follow-up with a gastroenterologist (doctor specializing in the digestive system and GI tract) is recommended. 

Good candidates for this screening have low to average risk of developing colon cancer:
– No history of polyps
– And no family history of cancer before age 60

Speak with your healthcare provider to see if this colon cancer screening option is right for you. Medica, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN, and Cigna insurances cover this scan every five years. Other insurances vary. Check with your insurance company to verify coverage of this screening.


Virtual Colonoscopy

Conventional Colonoscopy

Men and women 50+, average risk

Screening every 5 years

Screening every 10 years

Colon-cleansing prep
prior to screening



Exam duration

30 minutes or less

30 minutes to 2 hours

Awake during screening


No, need IV sedation

Able to drive yourself
to appointment


No, need a driver

Ability to remove polyps during screening



Regular activities afterward


No, restrictions following screening

Category: Prevention

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