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Virtual Colonoscopy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What do I need to know about a virtual colonoscopy?

A virtual colonoscopy is a type of x-ray test to examine the inside of your colon (large intestine). Healthcare providers use a CT scan or MRI to take pictures of your colon from outside your body. This procedure may be used to check for polyps (growths) or cancer. The size of a polyp may also be monitored. You may need this procedure to check if colorectal cancer has come back after you had treatment. A virtual colonoscopy may be used if you are not able to have a regular colonoscopy.

What do I need to do the week before my virtual colonoscopy?

How should I prepare for my virtual colonoscopy?

Your healthcare provider will have you prepare your bowels before your procedure. Your bowels will need to be empty before your procedure to allow him or her to see your colon clearly.

What will happen during a virtual colonoscopy?

What will happen after a virtual colonoscopy?

You may have some cramping or feel bloated after the procedure. You may need to lie on your left side with a heating pad on your abdomen. Eat small meals until the bloating improves.

What are the risks of a virtual colonoscopy?

A virtual colonoscopy may not find certain polyps or other problems in your intestines. Your healthcare provider will not be able to remove growths or take tissue samples to be tested. If contrast liquid is used, it may cause you to have headaches, nausea, vomiting, flushing, or itchiness. You could also have an allergic reaction to the liquid. You may feel a little pain or discomfort as the small tube is placed inside your rectum. Your colon may tear due to increased pressure. If this happens, you will need to stay in the hospital and have surgery on your colon.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.