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Digestive Disorders

From the Current Issue

New Research
Virtual Colonoscopy Not Yet Ready for Wide Use

Researchers say it’s still too early to put virtual colonoscopy to widespread use in colorectal screening. This noninvasive technology uses computed tomography (CT) scanning to provide doctors with a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the colon.

Previous, smaller studies had suggested that virtual colonoscopy was more than 90% effective in accurately spotting suspicious polyps. However, those studies were carried out by experts at individual centers.

To see if the technology worked just as well in general practice, the researchers compared the accuracy of standard vs. virtual colonoscopy in 615 patients treated at nine major hospitals.

The virtual version was able to detect just 39% of small polyps 6 mm or less in diameter and just 55% of polyps 10 mm or larger. By contrast, standard colonoscopy detected 99% and 100%, respectively.

Based on the findings, they conclude that virtual colonoscopy “is not ready for routine use at this time.”

However, as technology and training continue to improve, CT colonoscopy “will, at some point, become a clearly useful option for colorectal cancer screening,” writes the author of a related commentary.

Journal of the American
Medical Association
Volume 291, pages 1713 and 1772
April 14, 2004


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Digestive Disorders

The Digestive Disorders White Paper from The Johns Hopkins White Papers series is an annual, in-depth report written by Hopkins physicians.



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