| Virtual Colonoscopies Offered at NMCSD
1/10/2013

SAN DIEGO (Jan. 4, 2013) SAN DIEGO (Jan. 4, 2013) Cmdr. (Dr.) Jason D. Sweet, staff radiologist at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), examines images of a patient's bowel obtained from a computed tomography (CT) colonography. NMCSD began offering CT colonography in November 2012; CT colonography applies CT techniques to examine the interior of the colon offering a non-invasive option to patients. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Pyoung K. Yi/RELEASED)


SAN DIEGO (Jan. 4, 2013) Cmdr. (Dr.) Jason D. Sweet, staff radiologist at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), examines images of a patient's bowel obtained from a computed tomography (CT) colonography. NMCSD began offering CT colonography in November 2012; CT colonography applies CT techniques to examine the interior of the colon offering a non-invasive option to patients. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Pyoung K. Yi/RELEASED)

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Pyoung K. Yi, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs

 

SAN DIEGO - Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) began offering virtual colonoscopies, better known as computed tomography (CT) colonography, to its patients in November 2012.

 

CT colonography applies CT scanning techniques to examine the interior of the colon. It uses a rotating beam of x-rays and detectors placed at various angles to obtain cross-sectional images. This computerized analysis converts the images into detailed three-dimensional pictures of the inside of the colon.

 

No additional equipment was needed to provide this new medical procedure, but in 2012 NMCSD spent approximately $10,000 to train three radiologists on how perform CT colonography provided by the American Society of Radiation Oncology and the University of California San Francisco.

 

"This virtual colonoscopy enables the radiologist to 'see' inside the colon without having to insert a viewing instrument into the bowel," said Cmdr. (Dr.) Jason D. Sweet, staff radiologist at NMCSD. The procedure is a less-invasive option for patients requiring a colorectal cancer screening but who cannot tolerate regular colonoscopies due to anesthesia risks or other issues.

 

"CT colonograpy is an attractive alternative for routine colorectal cancer screening. It has a useful role in providing a colorectal screening solution in patients with multiple [diseases]," said Sweet.

 

A CT colonography also helps to complete the remainder of the examination for a patient's who has had an incomplete traditional colonoscopy;. Approximately 10 percent of patients fall into this category.

 

"In this circumstance, the colon will already have been cleansed, and CT colonography can be done on the same day," said Sweet.

 

The benefits of undergoing a CT colonography include a 20-minute examination, instead of an hour-long optical colonoscopy, clearer images after the scan is complete, and a more comfortable option for patients who previously had to undergo a traditional colonoscopy procedure.

 

"There is no need for sedation and the patient can drive themselves home after the exam," said Sweet. "There is also no need for placement of an intravenous catheter (IV)."

 

In addition, unlike traditional colonoscopy, CT colonography evaluates the abdominal organs outside the colon and, in certain circumstances, may reveal a "clinically important" finding.

 

"A CT colonography could detect an early cancer of the kidney years before it would have presented clinically, enabling early treatment," said Sweet.

 

In the United States, the majority of individuals eligible to undergo a colorectal cancer screening decide not to get it done, possibly because of the invasiveness of an optical colonoscopy, said Sweet.

 

"By offering CT colonography as a less invasive alternative, more people will be willing to undergo colorectal cancer screening and, therefore, screening compliance will increase," said Sweet.

 

NMCSD providers recommend patients schedule their first colonoscopy at the age of 50, or if patients have a family history of colon cancer should schedule their first exam 10 years prior to when a family member was first diagnosed with colon cancer.

 

In 2012, NMCSD provided more than 1,400 colonoscopies.

 

To set up an appointment for a CT colonography, or for more information on the procedure, call NMCSD's radiology department at (619) 532-8666.

 

For more information on Naval Medical Center San Diego, visit http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd or www.facebook.com/nmcsd.