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At The London Clinic, our team of radiologists perform CT colonography as an outpatient procedure. Because it is non-invasive compared to other colonic examinations such as a colonoscopy, there is no risk of damage to your colon. CT colonography also allows your whole abdomen to be scanned, which is helpful if there are related problems with your surrounding organs.

What is CT colonography?

Computed tomography (CT) colonography, also known as CTC or virtual colonoscopy (VC), is an X-Ray scanning technology used to diagnose disorders in your bowel such as bowel cancer, or non-cancerous growths known as polyps.

CT colonography is an effective way of diagnosing problems causing one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • A change in bowel habit
  • Blood in your bowel movements

How is CT colonography performed?

CT colonography is done using a CT scanner that uses X-Rays to produce images of your bowel. During the procedure, the CT scanner takes around 600 image slices that are then reconstructed to form a 3-dimensional image of your abdomen.

Preparing for CT colonography

Before CT colonography, you’ll need to empty your bowel so that the scan can produce clear pictures. We will give you an effective laxative treatment in the 24 hours prior to the colonography.

Two days before the test, your doctor may also ask you to swallow a special fluid containing iodine, which allows your bowel to show more clearly in the scan images. For this reason, tell your doctor if you are allergic to iodine. You should also tell your doctor if you’re pregnant as the X-Rays could affect your unborn baby.

CT colonography: what to expect

CT colonography is a short procedure that only takes about 20 minutes. To start, you’ll be asked to lie on a CT scanning table while a radiologist injects medicine to make the muscles of your bowel wall relax.

Next, the radiologist will place a thin tube into your rectum in order to blow carbon dioxide into your bowel. This action will expand your bowel so that the resulting images are clearer. Then the radiologist will then operate the CT scanner;, moving it around you in order to produce images from different angles. Images will be taken with you lying on your back and your front.

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