Dr. Kahn, medical director of EBT-Heart and Body Imaging in Southfield, introduced virtual colonoscopy for colon cancer screening to the Detroit area in 2002. Since then, the centre has performed more than 220 of the virtual scans. The virtual test involves a lighter prep, no sedation, no risk and does not require the insertion of a five-foot scope.
"If virtual colonoscopy can help facilitate more screenings, and I believe it already has, then it is proving its worth as a colon cancer screening option and meeting one of the most important criteria of any screening test, namely acceptance", Dr. Kahn stated.
Dr. Kahn explained that the virtual colonoscopy his clinic offers has drawn patients from across Michigan and southwestern Ontario, including Windsor and Toronto, with some patients travelling as long as five hours for the procedure.
"While virtual colonoscopy does not allow the removal of polyps during the procedure as traditional colonoscopy does, its benefits as an easy screening test for colorectal cancer are exceptional", noted Dr. Kahn. "Furthermore, a relatively small number of patients have polyps larger than 1 cm, which is large enough to be considered dangerous and require removal."
Dr. Kahn emphasised that virtual colonoscopy will not replace the traditional procedure, which is still required if a potentially cancerous polyp is found, as in 10 to 20 percent of cases. But he did say that insurance companies will eventually cover virtual colonoscopy as a screening procedure for at-risk individuals under the same guidelines it currently covers the traditional procedure, which is actually more expensive.
Beyond comfort and convenience, Dr. Kahn also noted there are some key advantages of virtual colonoscopy over the traditional test. "The virtual procedure actually sees 100 percent of the colon, and when the patient undergoes a virtual colon screening, the surrounding organs within the abdomen are also imaged. For many patients, we have found aortic aneurysms, tumours, kidney stones and other problems that would not have been found during a conventional colonoscopy."
Dr. Kahn stated that the ultimate test of success for virtual colonoscopy will be measured by its level of acceptance as a screening procedure among the general public and in the number of lives saved. "If we can encourage just 20 percent more of the individuals over 50 to get a colon screening, we have the potential to save many thousands of lives."
EBT-Heart & Body Imaging serves the Greater Detroit Community with state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging technology. Located in Southfield, Michigan, the facility offers lung, heart, and full body scans as well as virtual colonoscopy and traditional CT scanning. EBT Heart & Body physicians, technologists and professional staff bring personal care in a warm and friendly setting, treating each patient as an individual. More news on virtual colonoscopy is available in the VMW February 2003 article 3D virtual colonoscopy screening quick, effective and patient-friendly alternative to traditional colonoscopy.