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Diagnostic Tests 2023

Virtual colonoscopy: what é, preparation and advantages

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Virtual colonoscopy: what é, preparation and advantages
Virtual colonoscopy: what é, preparation and advantages

Virtual colonoscopy, also called colonography, is an exam that aims to visualize the intestine from images obtained through computed tomography with low radiation dose. In this way, the images obtained are processed by computer programs that generate images of the intestine in several perspectives, which allows the doctor to have a more detailed view of the intestine.

The procedure lasts an average of 15 minutes and during the exam a small probe is introduced into the initial part of the intestine, through the anus, through which a gas responsible for dilating the intestine passes to make all its portions visible.

Virtual colonoscopy can be useful to identify intestinal polyps with less than 0.5 mm, diverticula or cancer, for example, and if changes are observed during the examination, minor surgery may be required on the same day to remove the polyps or part of the intestine.

How to prepare

To perform a virtual colonoscopy, it is important that the intestine is clean so that it is possible to visualize its interior well. So, the day before the exam it is recommended:

  • Eat a specific diet, avoiding fatty foods and seeds. See how to eat before colonoscopy;
  • Take a laxative and contrast agent indicated by the doctor the afternoon before the exam;
  • Walk several times a day to increase bowel movements and help cleanse;
  • Drink at least 2 L of water to help cleanse the intestines.

This exam can be performed by most patients, however, it cannot be performed by pregnant women due to radiation, despite the radiation being of low frequency.

Benefits of Virtual Colonoscopy

Virtual colonoscopy is performed in people who cannot take anesthesia and who cannot bear to have the common colonoscopy because it involves the introduction of the probe into the anus, which causes some discomfort. In addition, other advantages of virtual colonoscopy are:

  • It is a very safe technique, with less risk of bowel perforation;
  • Does not cause pain, because the tube does not travel through the intestine;
  • The abdominal discomfort disappears after 30 minutes because small amounts of gas are introduced into the intestine;
  • Can be done in patients who cannot take anesthesia and who have irritable bowel syndrome;
  • After the exam, normal daily activities can be carried out, because anesthesia is not used.

In addition, it also allows diagnosing changes in organs that involve the intestine, such as liver, pancreas, gallbladder, spleen, bladder, prostate and even uterus, as the exam is performed with computed tomography devices.

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