3D virtual colonoscopy

Virtual colonoscopy, or CT colonography, at UW Health offers patients another choice for colorectal cancer screening that is both less invasive and less time-consuming than the conventional screening method.

Virtual colonoscopy uses CT scan technology and the only FDA-approved 3D evaluation software, which allows radiologists to obtain 3D images from different angles, providing a "movie" of the interior of the colon without having to insert a scope into the colon.

A virtual colonoscopy can show the whole picture, providing precise and detailed images of the colon's interior, in a minimally invasive manner. Learn more

Virtual colonoscopy facts (pdf)

About virtual colonoscopy

UW Health offers 3D virtual colonoscopy to screen for colorectal polyps and identify potentially problematic growths.

Our clinical program offers the following benefits:

  • A safe and effective method for visualizing colorectal polyps

  • For screening patients, essentially no risk of bleeding or perforating the colon

  • The CT scan procedure takes only 30 minutes

  • No need for intravenous sedation; you may return immediately to work or normal activities

  • No need for patient to be driven home from hospital

  • Can safely continue anticoagulation therapy

  • Less costly than conventional colonoscopy

  • UW Hospital and Clinics has the leading medical expert on virtual colonoscopy on staff

  • UW Hospital and Clinics uses the only FDA-approved 3-D evaluation software for screening

  • Same-day GI Clinic services to remove polyps, if required

  • A limited, 2D evaluation of the abdominal compartment, which might detect other conditions outside the colon

The following information will help you determine if virtual colonoscopy is right for you. Please consult your primary physician for a referral and a prescription for the virtual colonoscopy preparation.

Screening virtual colonoscopy candidates

  • Screening for colorectal cancer is recommended at age 45, unless a first-degree relative (i.e., parent or sibling) has been diagnosed with colon cancer. Screening may then begin earlier.

  • Patient has no personal history of colon cancer

  • Patient has no personal history of inflammatory bowel disease

  • Screening is ideal for patients with medical conditions for which sedation would be contraindicated (i.e., severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allergic reactions to sedative medications, etc.), and patients on blood thinners

Diagnostic virtual colonoscopy candidates

  • Patients with gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e., change in bowel habits, history of colonic polyps, etc.)

  • Patients with incomplete colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy

  • Evaluation of obstructing colorectal cancer

  • Virtual colonoscopy is the exam of choice to further evaluate submucosal lesions found during optical colonoscopy or on another radiological exam

For information on conventional colonoscopy, please consult your primary care physician.

Learn more