What is a Colonoscopy vs a Virtual Colonoscopy – What is the Difference?

Colonoscopy vs a Virtual Colonoscopy

What is a Colonoscopy?

A traditional colonoscopy is an internal examination of the large intestine, using a flexible tube (colonoscope).

A colonoscope is a thin flexible tube with a camera fixed to the end, the length of which can vary. It can take hundreds of internal pictures and allow a specialist to see inside your rectum and colon. The tube is inserted through the rectum and into the bowel.

The colonoscopy helps find problems in the colon such as ulcers, polyps, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. A colonoscopy can also be used as a screening test to check for colon cancer. During the colonoscopy polyps or abnormal growths can be removed and if needed a biopsy can be taken. A biopsy is when tissue samples are collected for later testing. The procedure is performed either in a theatre or in an endoscopy unit. It takes between 15-45 minutes.

If you are interested in a colonoscopy, you must first book a consultation with one of our specialist Colorectal Surgeons / Gastroenenterologists.

Find out more about our colonoscopy procedure at Pall Mall Medical.

What is a Virtual Colonoscopy?

A virtual colonoscopy (also called a CTC / CT Colonography)uses a CT scan to produce two and three-dimensional images of the colon. The images can then be displayed on a screen for your radiologist to examine. It covers the rectum, all the way to the lower end of the small intestine. The virtual colonoscopy is used to diagnose colon and bowel disease, including polyps, diverticulosis and cancer.

The images will be reported on by a specialist radiologist, who will likely suggest consulting with a Gastroenterologist

Find out more about our private virtual colonoscopy at Pall Mall Medical

Which is more suitable for you?

Advantages of a Traditional Colonoscopy over a Virtual Colonoscopy

  • No radiation
  • If anything abnormal is found you can do the biopsy there and then
  • You can have one as often as it is required (in theory)
  • It shows more detail than a CT scan

Disadvantages of a Traditional Colonoscopy compared to a Virtual Colonoscopy

  • An invasive procedure
  • Can be very uncomfortable
  • Around 30 minutes of recovery time, in which you may experience some cramping
  • It is advised against driving for 8 hours after the procedure

Advantages of a Virtual Colonoscopy over a Traditional Colonoscopy

  • The procedure is non-invasive
  • There should be no discomfort
  • No recovery time needed. Patients can go home straight away
  • It is almost half the price and only takes 1

Disadvantages of a Virtual Colonoscopy compared to a Traditional Colonoscopy

  • If any issues are detected, you will still need a separate colonoscopy for a more detailed view and to allow a biopsy to be performed
  • Does not show as much detail, so polyps smaller than between 2 and 10millimetresin diameter may not show
  • You can only have once every 5 years - due to radiation
  • Does not need to be done by a Gastroenterologist

You should choose a Virtual Colonoscopy for screening purposes only. If you have a family history of bowel cancer or are showing symptoms, you should speak to a Gastroenterologist or Colorectal Surgeon.

If you are unsure which option is most suitable for you, speak to one of our Private GPs who can provide you with all the information you need.

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