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CT Colonography
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

CT Colonography Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


CT colonography is a radiology test that looks at your large intestines (colon). It is one of many options for colon cancer screenings.

What to Expect

Prior to Test

  • Do not eat for 8-12 hours before the test.
  • A bowel cleansing will be done with a laxative. The goal of the cleansing is to rid your colon of all stool. The laxative will cause you to have many bowel movements over several hours.
  • If you have diabetes , talk to your doctor about adjusting your medicines.

Description of the Test

A radiologist will position you on your back on a movable x-ray table. Just before the test, a small tube will be inserted into your rectum. Air will be gently pumped through this tube. The table will move slowly though the donut-shaped CT scanner. While this is happening, you will need to lie very still. You will be asked to hold your breath during the scan. The scanning test will then be repeated with you lying on your stomach.

After Test

You will be able to leave after the test is done. You can resume your normal diet and activities.

How Long Will It Take?

30-40 minutes

Will It Hurt?

You may feel cramping and bloating. You may feel the urge to have a bowel movement.


An expert will review the images. If something abnormal is seen, your doctor may suggest a colonoscopy .



American College of Gastroenterology

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse


Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

Canadian Cancer Society


Fletcher RH. Colorectal cancer screening on stronger footing. NEJM. 2008;359:1285-1287.

Gore RM, Levine MS. Textbook of Gastrointestinal Radiology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Company; 2000.

Johnson CD, et al. Accuracy of CT Colonography for Detection of Large Adenomas and Cancers. NEJM. 2008;359(12): 1207-1217.

Mulhall P, Veerappan GR, Jackson JL, et al. Meta-analysis: computed tomographic colonography. Ann Intern Med. 2005;142(8):635-650.

Yee J. Screening CT Colonography. Radiol Clin North Am. 2004;42(4):757-766.



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