FRIDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Prepping for a "virtual colonoscopy" at the Mayo Clinic now only involves swallowing four cleansing tablets, rather than the large amounts of liquid laxative typically required, researchers report.
This summer, Mayo embraced the tablet bowel prep as its standard of care for patients undergoing noninvasive colonography, which relies on a CT scan to generate a 3-D snapshot of the patient's colon and rectum.
The four-tablet prep, which contains the laxative agent bisacodyl, would not sufficiently prepare patients for a standard colonoscopy, which involves the insertion of a tiny camera into the patient's large intestine for a real-time visual inspection of the region.
The screenings are recommended for people over 50 for early detection of colon cancer. The colonography route would suffice for the vast majority of patients, the Mayo team says, raising the prospect that an easier prep experience may encourage more people to undergo colon cancer screening.
"About 70 million Americans are eligible for a screening," said Dr. C. Daniel Johnson, chair of the Mayo Clinic's department of radiology in Arizona. "But today only about half actually do it. And one of the major obstacles has been the inconvenience of the bowel prep, which requires ingesting about a gallon of liquid the day before the procedure."
When they compared the effect of a tablet prep vs. the full bowel prep in a group of colonography patients, "we really didn't find any discernable difference between the two," he added.
Johnson and his colleagues discussed their analysis of the tablet-prep option last year in the journal Abdominal Imaging.
Colonography is an extremely accurate means of picking up polyps that are either intermediate (6 to 9 millimeters) or large (1 centimeter or more), the researchers say.
However, Dr. David Greenwald, the gastrointe
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