CT Colonography

CTC or "Virtual Colonoscopy"

What is a CT Colonography?

CT Colonography or “Virtual Colonoscopy” is a well established screening tool for bowel (colon) cancer, for both asymptomatic and symptomatic patients. Its accuracy for detection of cancer is equivalent to conventional colonoscopy. It is extremely safe, fast and is less invasive than conventional colonoscopy. No sedation is required and you may resume normal activities straight afterwards.

CT imaging uses special low-dose x-ray equipment combined with powerful computing technology to create detailed 2D and 3D images of the body. CT is considered to be very safe and painless.

If you need a CT Colonography, here’s everything you need to know.

Before your scan

When you make an appointment, our booking team will let you know exactly what to expect for your particular scan, and what you need to do beforehand. Bowel preparation will be necessary to clean the inside of the bowel, similar to colonoscopy. We will send you (by mail and/or email) detailed instructions for the bowel preparation and more information about the test. Importantly, please let us know if you are diabetic so we can give you additional information about how to manage this during bowel preparation.

Please also let us know if you suffer from allergies or if you have kidney disease or asthma. CT scans use x-rays, so if you’re pregnant, or suspect you might be, let us know. This means we’ll most likely be unable to perform the CT, but we can discuss the situation directly with your doctor. 

Please also remember to bring your completed doctors referral form with you, if this has not already been sent to us. This will ensure the branch reception has all the necessary information required so our expert team can provide you with the best care possible.

On the day of your appointment

Please do not have any food or drink, except for liquids as instructed on your bowel preparation sheet. Unless you are a diabetic, you can take your usual medications.

When you arrive, please check in with reception. We’ll make sure all your details are correct. You may need to fill out one or two forms.

Before your scan, you may need to remove most of your clothing and all of your jewellery and then change into a gown – this makes things easier, and will be more comfortable.

You will have a small IV line placed in your arm, in order to give Buscopan before the scan. This relaxes your bowel wall muscle and makes the bowel distension easier. You will lie on the CT bed and the radiographer or nurse will be at your side. A very small tube is placed in the rectum to inflate the bowel with carbon dioxide so we can see the inside of your colon. This will cause your abdomen to distend. Some people find it feels tight and a little uncomfortable, but it does not last long. Once you’re all set, the radiographer will move into another room – you can talk to them at any time over the intercom. The bed slides in and out of the CT scanner, which is like a big doughnut. You’ll have to stay very still during your scan and may be asked to hold your breath just for a few seconds. You will usually be scanned in both  supine (lying on your back) and prone (lying on your front) positions. The procedure takes about 15 minutes on the table.

After your scan

You will have easy access to a toilet, and then be able to get changed and have food/drink. Most people will be able to get on with their day right away. 

Your report will usually be available from your referring doctor within two working days.

Who can't have a CT Colonography scan?

CT Colonography is very safe, but isn’t appropriate for people who are pregnant.