Magazine article USA TODAY

Video Technology Detects Polyps

Magazine article USA TODAY

Video Technology Detects Polyps

Article excerpt

A futuristic technology that looks a lot like a video game may be used to detect colon polyps one centimeter (0.39") or larger in size painlessly with more than 90% accuracy. The virtual CT colonography procedure, nicknamed "virtual colonoscopy," may provide a viable alternative to identify pre-cancerous growths, detect colon cancer, and determine its stage in patients who are ineligible or simply refuse traditional colonoscopy, indicates Martina M. Morrin, a colon and rectal surgeon with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass.

Colonoscopy is a screening tool used to detect colon cancer, which strikes nearly 130,000 Americans, and takes the lives of 56,000, each year. A thorough examination of the full lining of the colon using a long, flexible, tubular device called a colonoscope provides an internal view that the surgeon monitors on a TV screen. During colonoscopy, the surgeon can perform biopsies and remove colon polyps as they are detected. Most colonoscopies are done on an outpatient basis with sedation prescribed to minimize discomfort. The procedure usually is completed in less than one hour.

Virtual colonoscopy is less invasive, requires no sedative, and takes little of the patient's time. In virtual colonoscopy, air is introduced into the colon through a small, soft-tipped tube, similar to a bladder catheter, in the rectum. A CT scan is performed through the colon in the prone and supine positions. The entire examination takes eight to 10 minutes. The recorded images are assembled in a computer program, creating a three-dimensional model that can be viewed on screen and "steered through" after the patient exam has been completed. …

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