How you prepare

Check with your insurance provider

Not all health insurance providers pay for virtual colonoscopy for colon cancer screening. Check with your health insurance provider to see which tests are covered.

Empty your colon

Before a virtual colonoscopy, you'll need to empty your colon. Any residue in your colon may obscure the images taken during the exam.

To empty your colon, follow your doctor's instructions carefully. You may be asked to:

  • Follow a special diet the day before the exam. Typically, you won't be able to eat that day. Drinks may be limited to clear liquids. You may not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the exam.
  • Take a laxative the night before the exam. You may also need to use a suppository to clear any remaining residue in your colon.
  • Take medication to identify stool in your colon. The medication will help the doctor differentiate between colon abnormalities and stool residue.
  • Adjust your usual medications. Remind your doctor of your medications at least a week before the exam. You may need to temporarily stop taking certain medications days or hours before the exam.
Sept. 23, 2017
References
  1. AskMayoExpert. CT colonography. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
  2. Bibbins-Domingo K, et al. Screening for colorectal cancer: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2016;315:2564.
  3. Johnson CD, et al. Computed tomographic colonography (virtual colonoscopy): A new method for detecting colorectal neoplasms. Endoscopy. 1997;29:454.
  4. Hara AK, et al. Detection of colorectal polyps by computed tomographic colography: Feasibility of a novel technique. Gastroenterology. 1996;110:284.
  5. Colorectal cancer screening. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Aug. 24, 2017.
  6. Virtual colonoscopy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/virtual-colonoscopy. Accessed Aug. 24, 2017.
  7. Riggin EA. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan 31, 2017.