Colon Screening. Colonoscopy. Now, You Have Choices.
Gone are the days when our only option to protect ourselves from cancerous lumps and polyps was the infamous, invasive, traditional optical colonoscopy. Traditional colonoscopies are highly beneficial in lowering our cancer risks; and the discomfort most people envision when they think of the test is highly exaggerated. Still, though, that little piece of us that values our modesty wants choices when it comes to the examination of such a private area of our body.
The American Cancer Society suggests that all people should schedule their first colonoscopy at the age of 50 (and sooner if certain risk factors are present); and more and more of these people are asking their proctologist, also known as a colon and rectal surgeon, about a virtual colonoscopy as a safe alternative to the traditional preventative colonoscopy that people love to hate.
The cost of a traditional colonoscopy differs from state to state. Virtual colonoscopies require no sedation and fewer resources, so they run on average roughly one third the cost of a colonoscopy. However, virtual colonoscopy is typically not covered by insurance unless there is a specific contraindication to colonoscopy.
Both colonoscopies and virtual colonoscopies require a tube be inserted into the rectum and colon. In a virtual colonoscopy, though, the tube is much smaller, and doesn’t need to span the whole length of the colon like the traditional technique requires. The result is fewer risks of tears and perforations both during the procedure and after, and a much faster recovery time for the patient as no sedation is required during a virtual colonoscopy.
Virtual colonoscopies have been described by patients as less invasive than traditional colonoscopies. They require no sedation, so the length of time for the procedure from start to finish is much shorter. Furthermore, the insertion tube is smaller and therefore less apparent to the patient while in use. Air is instilled into the colon with both procedures so there may be some feeling of bloating until the air is passed back out.
Because virtual colonoscopies rely on high-tech imaging software, they give a thorough, detailed view of the colon and surrounding area. On the images produced during the procedure, doctors can check for cancers and polyps, as well as several other common problems associated with the gastrointestinal tract. Small polyps, less than 5mm however may be missed. If an abnormality is seen, then traditional colonoscopy will be necessary to evaluate or obtain a biopsy and remove the polyp, as this cannot be done during a virtual colonoscopy.
Virtual colonoscopies provide an overall level of convenience that patients’ haven’t seen with this type of procedure before. They’re quick, they’re relatively inexpensive, and they can be done without the lasting effects of anesthesia or numbing agents. The procedure provides a simple solution to the hassle of routine rectal and colon exams, and peace of mind to those who fret about the discomforts associated with them.
Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates
Everybody over the age of 50 should schedule routine colonoscopies to limit their risk factors of developing colonic cancer. Fortunately, technology has graced us with a few options to consider when planning this exam. To find out more about a virtual colonoscopy or a traditional optical colonoscopy, or to schedule a visit with any of the doctors of Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates, contact us today at (310)273-2310. Ask how you can start protecting yourself with preventative screenings, and if a virtual colonoscopy would be right for you.