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CT Virtual Colonoscopy is available at this location:
At Southtowns Radiology, we are early detection champions for colorectal cancer.
A virtual colonoscopy, also called a CT colonography, uses low-dose CT technology to look for polyps or growths on the inside of the colon. Because colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the US, it is essential that polyps in the colon are detected early, when they are most treatable.
Using low-dose CT, a virtual colonoscopy is less invasive than a traditional colonoscopy, and is a recommended alternative for patients who are on blood-thinning medication, have difficulty breathing, or who do not respond well to anesthetic. Additionally, the scan may be able to image areas of the large intestine that would not be easily seen during a conventional colonoscopy.
Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) is a special type of imaging that takes very detailed, 3-D pictures of your colon and rectum. While it uses 75% less radiation than a traditional CT scan, it also shows significantly more detail than a standard abdominal x-ray.
In most cases, the scan will take approximately 15-20 minutes, and does not require anesthesia. No recovery time is needed, and patients typically can resume daily activity right away. Furthermore, virtual CT colonoscopies are cost effective as compared to traditional colonoscopies, especially for those who are paying out-of-pocket for the screening. Patients are able to drive themselves, do not need someone to accompany them, and can return to normal activities immediately after this study.
The American College of Radiology (ACR) aligns with the American Cancer Society with regard to colorectal cancer screenings. Southtowns Radiology follows this guidance and we recommend that patients with average risk, screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 45 with a CT colonography study completed every 5 years.
Southtowns Radiology offers low-dose CT virtual colonography at our Orchard Park office. Call 716-649-9000 to schedule your appointment. Most appointments take less than a half hour, and results are usually provided to the doctor who ordered the screen within 48 hours (with the exception of Saturdays).
We are proud to offer advanced technology on our 64-slice scanner for a reduction in radiation levels of up to 50%. This state-of-the art imaging adds greater peace of mind for patients concerned about radiation exposure while actually improving image quality.
Here are important risk factors to consider when thinking about colorectal cancer screening.
- Aging – the average age at time of diagnosis is 68 in men and 72 in women
- A family history of colorectal cancer
- A personal history of other types of cancer
- Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis for 8+ years
Healthcare providers may use a risk-based outcomes tool from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health (NIH) to evaluate a patient’s individual risk of colorectal cancer. For more information and to calculate your risk of colorectal cancer, visit the NIH NCI site here.
It’s a good idea to talk with your provider about your gut health and family history of colon cancer.
The good news is that colorectal cancer is often preventable and is one of the most treatable types of cancer when caught early. According to a 2019 report from the Cleveland Clinic, up to 85% of colon cancers could be prevented or successfully treated if everyone who was eligible for a colonoscopy was screened. Therefore, it is critical that your doctor knows your health history, including any diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or family history of colon cancer, as approximately 1 in 4 patients have a relative diagnosed with the disease.
It is also essential that you reach out to your doctor or healthcare provider if you have lasting changes in bowel habits, including constipation or diarrhea, any rectal bleeding or blood in your stool, the feeling that you are not fully emptying your bowel, or significant, unexplained weight loss.
Remember – because you know your family history, your lifestyle and your body like no one else, you are your own best healthcare advocate. If you have multiple risk factors to consider, it’s a good idea to ask about a colonoscopy – do not assume your provider will come to you with this information.
When deciding where you will go for a low-dose CT virtual colonoscopy, it’s important that you ask:
- Is this imaging center accredited in CT scanning by the American College of Radiology?
- Will my doctor or primary care provider have my results within 48 hours?
- Is the radiology center close to work or home – will I be able to schedule a time that fits into my daily schedule?
Southtowns Radiology’s Orchard Park office is easily accessible to most communities south of Buffalo and is 30 minutes or less away from West Seneca, East Aurora, Angola, Blasdell, Eden, Lakeview, Derby, Elma, Boston and Springville.
We can often accommodate next-day appointments for low-dose CT virtual colonoscopies, and appointments typically take less than 30 minutes to complete.
Typical insurance coverage and out of pocket cost for a virtual colonoscopy you should consider include:
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that private insurers fully cover CT colonography. However, Medicare is currently considering coverage of the exam. Further information on larger insurance companies who cover virtual colonoscopy exams independent of the ACA requirements can be found on the ACR website at acr.org/VirtualCT.
If you have questions regarding your insurance coverage for a virtual colonoscopy, or another service we provide, please see our Billing & Insurance Info. You can also call the customer service number on your insurance card and talk directly with a representative there.
When self-pay or paying out-of-pocket is considered, the cost of a virtual colonoscopy is significantly lower than a traditional colonoscopy, as no sedation or recovery is required. If you are considering paying for a virtual colonoscopy on your own, please call our scheduling department at 716-649-9000 and ask about our self-pay exam rate.
Before your virtual colonoscopy (low dose CT colonography), you should know:
When you arrive for your virtual colonoscopy, it’s essential that you have your script with you. If you don’t have your script, please call the provider who ordered your imaging to ensure that one can be faxed to our office for your appointment.
Like a traditional colonoscopy, you will be required to clear your bowel – we will provide you with directions to do so. Unlike a traditional colonoscopy, however, you will not be sedated and can resume your typical activity at the conclusion of the exam, which will take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.
During your study, your technologist will help you lie down on a movable table to take images from different angles. The technologist will view the images of your colon at the computer workstation to ensure quality images have been captured for review. A radiologist will then examine the images and will send a copy of your results to the provider who ordered your screening test. You should expect to hear results from the provider who ordered your test, and also receive a letter with your results mailed to you within one week.
Additional Resources for Colorectal Cancer
- American College of Radiology Screening Location Finder (https://www.acr.org/Clinical-Resources/Colon-Cancer-Screening-Resources/My-CT-Colonography)
- American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons (https://fascrs.org/patients/diseases-and-conditions/a-z/colon-cancer)
- Colorectal Cancer Alliance (https://www.ccalliance.org/colorectal-cancer-information)