GI doctors are urging (gasp!) caution before adopting a new patient favorite, virtual colonoscopy. It seems this noninvasive imaging technique might pick up too many abnormalities (especially outside the gut), prompting wild goose chases for incidentalomas, racking up bills and possibly endangering patients down the road (not to mention, GI docs who would lose revenue to radiologists) . But hey, what is Virtual Colonoscopy, anyway?
It allows doctors to use CT scanners to look at the colon to detect polyps (small growths in the colon that may become cancerous if they are not removed) and cancers. Virtual reality software allows them to look inside the body without having to insert a long tube (conventional colonoscopy) into the colon or without having to fill the colon with liquid barium (barium enema).
Research performed at Wake Forest Baptist and elsewhere has shown that CTC is better able to see polyps than barium enemas and is nearly as accurate as conventional colonoscopy. Most patients report that CTC is more comfortable than either procedure.
“Virtual colonoscopy will certainly play a role in the future of colon cancer screening,” said gastroenterologist Richard S. Bloomfeld, M.S., M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and a member of the research team. “It is important to understand the implications of findings outside the colon before we advocate wide-spread use of this technology.”
He’s right, of course, but we can’t help but read between the lines: “Please, please, give me a few more years to coast, before I’m forced to hand over all my income from diagnostic colonoscopies to the radiologists…”
Press release from Wake Forest…
Flashback: Virtual Colonoscopy As Good As Regular Roto-Rooter