Study Supports the Use of Virtual Colonoscopy

All doctors (and Katie Couric) agree on the value of colonoscopy as a medical screening tool for people over 50 . In fact the Columbia University Department of Surgery notes that

“By screening people every five to 10 years, we think we can prevent most cancer formation,” says gastroenterologist Christine L. Frissora, M.D. In fact, having just one colonoscopy decreases your lifetime risk of dying from colorectal cancer by 68 percent.

The Washington Times reports today about a study published in the medical journal Radiology finding that virtual colonoscopy which uses three-dimensional computed tomography produces accurate diagnoses as compared to invasive, optical colonoscopy. The “research found that only 6 percent of the patients who underwent a virtual colonoscopy required a subsequent conventional colonoscopy.” The article reports two especially interesting facts:

In addition, the [virtual] procedure has yielded surprise benefits. It has picked up “clinically important extracolonic findings,” according to a study last year at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Virtual colonoscopy revealed kidney cancers, abdominal aneurysms and other serious conditions in 45 out of 500 patients who underwent the procedure.

Meanwhile, the American College of Gastroenterology has not yet given its blanket approval of virtual colonoscopy for routine screening. But the Maryland-based group yesterday pronounced capsule colonoscopy — in which the patient swallows a jelly bean-sized video camera that records thousands of images — a “promising new tool for colon cancer screening.” The group will release complete research findings on Monday.