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Virtual Colonoscopy

A virtual colonoscopy is a minimally invasive computed tomography (CT) scan that produces two- and three-dimensional images of the large intestine (colon), rectum and small intestine. The procedure is used to diagnose colon and bowel disease, including polyps and masses, diverticulosis (pouches in the colon) and cancer.


  • We will provide you with either a Standard Preparation Kit or a Preparation Kit for Patients Using Colyte. We can courier it or you can pick it up.
  • Please read and follow the instructions in your kit carefully. The materials are designed to cleanse your bowel for your exam; if it is not completely clean, we may have to repeat the exam. Any remaining stool may also hide serious conditions.
  • Individual responses to the laxatives may vary. You may wish to remain close to washroom facilities during the preparation phase and for several hours after the study.


  • Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment.
  • Take all prescribed medication as directed, but with a small amount of water. Don’t eat or drink anything else.
  • Please let us know if you have allergies, diabetes, heart or kidney disease, or a sodium-restricted diet.
  • SPECIAL NOTE: Three hours before your exam, take 10 milligrams of Buscopan (one tablet), if it’s included in your kit. Swallow it whole with a small amount of water (don’t chew or dissolved the tablet).


  • You may be asked to change into scrubs.
  • You will be asked to lie on your back on the bed of the CT scanner, which will then be adjusted for correct placement.
  • Your technologist will leave the room to begin your exam, but you will be in direct communication throughout your procedure.
  • A small tube will be inserted into your rectum to inflate your colon with CO2 until you feel full. (CO2 is more comfortable and more readily absorbed by the body than room air.)
  • During the exam, you will be asked to turn from your back to your stomach.
  • On a few occasions, you will be asked to hold your breath (for 10-15 seconds) to help obtain specific images.
  • Once we have the correct number of good-quality images, your technologist will help you off the bed and guide you back to your change room. You are then free to leave.


  • Resume your normal diet and medications.
  • You will be able to drive after the exam.
  • Although some of the CO2 will be absorbed, the majority of it will be expelled naturally over the next few hours.
  • If you have any questions or concerns following your exam, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 403-777-4674.


We do our best to have our radiologists interpret the information and forward the results to your doctor in a timely manner.. For our Health Assessment Scans, we will also provide you with a letter with your results and a digital copy of your images.


In Calgary, CT exams are provided at our Mayfair Place location as private pay exams and are not covered by Alberta Health Care. A virtual colonoscopy is $895.

We offer a 10% Seniors discount (65+) that can be applied to the total CT exam.

Your health spending account or group medical insurance plan may cover the cost of a private CT that is prescribed by a qualified health care practitioner. You will need to check with your plan administrator for coverage details.

Please note that if contrast is needed, it’s an additional cost of $125.


Please ensure that you bring your requisition with you to your appointment.


20-30 minutes



Do I need a doctor's referral?

Yes, all diagnostic and preventative screening CT exams (including those part of Mayfair's Health Assessment packages) require a referral from your health care provider. You can download a referral form on our website.

Is a preventative screening CT scan right for me?

Most physicians endorse routine screening beginning at age 50. For patients with one or more risk factors: a family history of colon cancer or heart disease; a history of diabetes; high cholesterol or high blood pressure; an inactive lifestyle; weight problems; or concerns about abdominal disease, pelvic disease or osteoporosis, screening should begin earlier (usually at age 40).

Are there size or weight restrictions?

Mayfair's wide-bore CT scanners offer a more comfortable imaging experience, especially for larger patients or those who are prone to anxiety in tight spaces. Feet first scanning capacity, flexible design configurations, and padding provide optimal patient comfort. If you're nervous about sizing, measure your body at the widest point (usually across your abdomen or from shoulder to shoulder) and if the measurement is less than 70 centimetres, you should fit. If you are claustrophobic, you can come in for a fitting at NO charge to make sure you will be comfortable during the exam. Patients whose weight exceeds 226 kilograms (500 lbs) may be unable to have a CT scan.

Are there any risks?

The exposure to radiation from a CT scan is higher than that of standard X-rays, but the associated risk is still small. For example, the radiation exposure from one low-dose CT scan of the abdomen is similar to the exposure from the earth's natural background radiation over six months. In most cases, the benefits of a CT, such as the early detection of a serious illness, outweigh the small increased risk from radiation exposure. If your CT exam requires intravenous contrast, there is a small risk of allergic reaction to the contrast agent. Diabetes, asthma, heart disease, kidney problems, or thyroid conditions also increase your risk of a reaction to contrast.

How should I prepare for my procedure?

For the virtual colonoscopy, you must irrigate the colon with laxatives and temporarily change your diet.