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Virtual Colonoscopies Show Value for Some Patients, But Polyps Will Be Missed
Date:3/12/2009

ECRI Institute(R) Evidence Report Compares Effectiveness of CT Colonography to Colonoscopy

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., March 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The value of CT colonography, also called virtual colonoscopy, is under debate as Medicare considers halting coverage of these procedures as a diagnostic method for detecting colorectal cancer and precancerous growths. Research findings from meta-analyses performed by ECRI Institute suggest that CT colonography appears most promising for screening asymptomatic, average-risk patients; however, it will miss some important polyps and cancer that would have been detected by colonoscopy. For asymptomatic high-risk patients and symptomatic patients, the percentage of patients correctly identified as having colorectal polyps or cancer may be too low to be useful.

"While some patients may prefer CT colonography, it may not be the best choice for everyone," Meredith Noble, an ECRI Institute researcher, notes. "Although CT colonography may be a useful alternative for patients with contraindications to colonoscopy or for whom colonoscopy cannot be completed, it may be less useful for patients who will inevitably require a subsequent therapeutic colonoscopy."

ECRI Institute (www.ecri.org), an independent, nonprofit organization that researches the best approaches to improving patient care, analyzed recent studies on the comparative effectiveness of CT colonography to traditional colonoscopy. Researchers focused on five key issues: 1) diagnostic performance for detecting clinically important polyps or cancer, 2) impact on long-term clinical outcomes, 3) patient preferences, 4) adverse events, and 5) impact of offering CT colonography on patient compliance with CRC screening recommendations. Researchers reviewed 17 publications of studies that reported on 7,460 patients.

According to ECRI Institute's re
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SOURCE ECRI Institute
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