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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.

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS

  • 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.
  • These instructions describe how to clean your bowel adequately for the CT colonoscopy. A bowel that is not completely clean may mean having to repeat the test. Any remaining stool could also hide serious conditions that may be present. Please read the instructions carefully.
  • Please let us know if you have allergies, diabetes, heart or kidney disease, or are on a sodium-restricted diet. Call 403-777-3000 if you have questions.
  • 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.

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR MY EXAM?

  • If included in your kit, take one Buscopan tablet (10 mg) three hours before your exam. Swallow the tablet whole with a small amount of water (do not chew or dissolve the tablet).
  • Take all prescribed medications as directed with a small amount of water. Do NOT eat or drink anything else.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment to allow enough time for adequate preparation.
  • Bring photo identification and your provincial health card.
  • Wear comfortable clothes.
  • Please do not bring children who require supervision.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING MY EXAM?

  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Your technologist will leave the room to begin your exam, but you will be in direct communication throughout your procedure.
  • During the exam, you will be asked to turn from your back to your stomach.
  • 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.

POST-EXAM INSTRUCTIONS

  • Resume your normal diet and medications.
  • You will be able to drive after the exam.
  • Although most of the CO2 will be absorbed, some 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.

WHEN WILL I GET MY RESULTS?

We do our best to have our radiologists interpret the information and forward the results to your doctor in a timely manner.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

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.

FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

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

DURATION

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. Screening should begin earlier (usually at age 40) 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, etc.
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.