When people eat, they probably do not pay much attention to what happens to their food once it has entered their mouth. Instead, they eat it, enjoy the overall taste, and bid it a fond farewell into their stomach. However, it is what happens afterwards, particularly in the case of people who like to eat lots of red meat and unprocessed foods, that is the most important.
Specifically, the food that a person eats can have effect on their small intestine, or colon, and this is a virtual colonoscopy checks for. Generally speaking, a person becomes a candidate for a virtual colonoscopy once they reach the age of fifty. It is at middle age that eating a lifetime of certain kinds of foods can take their toll on the colon.
However, the virtual colonoscopy also checks for such serious irregularities as colon cancer, which takes the form of cancerous polyps. Unfortunately, the predecessor to this virtual procedure, the original colonoscopy, was something that many people avoided having done because of its invasiveness. Because of this, many lives were needlessly cut short.
The virtual colonoscopy is especially liked by the elderly because of its minimal invasiveness. In the original colonoscopy, a long thin tube that was attached to a medical camera was inserted up the rectum and through the entire length of the colon. In especially delicate people, this could lead to internal bleeding. Additionally, the patient had to be lightly sedated, and the procedure would take about an hour to complete.
The virtual form of this procedure has been designed with improvements of all the aforementioned things. First of all, while a person absolutely had to wear a medical gown for the original procedure, in the virtual one they have the option of wearing their own clothing. However, it is important to note that the clothing should be without any metal, so that the scanner can work properly.
The scan itself takes place in an outpatient facility. After the patient has been positioned in the way that will be most comfortable for him or her, a small plastic tube will inserted about two inches into the rectum. Next, some carbonated air is blown through the tube in order to eliminate any folds in the tissue of the colon.
The plastic tube itself is connected to the scanner, which produces a three dimensional view of the colon. The scanned images are transmitted to a computer with specialized software that will allow the technician and the doctor to virtually travel through the colon of the patient. The original version of the colonoscopy had to be done in real time, since the camera was producing real time images.
It is important that the patient remain as still as possible while the scan is taking place. The scan itself will take only about fifteen minutes to complete. After the scan has been completed, the patient is usually able to return to his or her regular activities. The doctor will then evaluate the scan and schedule an appointment with the patient to discuss the findings.