Chime Heart Foundation



Colon Scan


What is a Colon-Scan?

The Heart-ScanTM team now offers Colon-Scan, a new test that gives us a way to look inside the colon for the detection of polyps and cancers.  Colorectal cancer (cancer of the large intestine and rectum) is second (after lung cancer) in the number of cancer deaths it causes.  This alternative to standard Colonoscopy does not require a hospital or outpatient stay, or anaesthesia. With colon-scan we can look inside the colon by simply inserting a small tube without anaesthesia into the back passage instead of a long tube (over 1 meter) under anaesthesia (conventional colonoscopy).  The colons are filled with a combination of a special chalky liquid (barium) and an orange flavoured contrast.  The patient will be asked to follow a low-residue diet for the 2 days prior to the test followed by a laxative and suppository the previous night.  This is a less rigorous preparation when compared with the wash-out enema required for Conventional colonoscopy.  The technique also involves the administration of intra-venous contrast media so that at the same time we can investigate other organs such as liver, kidneys, spleen, bladder, etc. 

Colorectal cancers begin as small precancerous growths, called polyps. As with many cancers, there are usually no symptoms in the early stages. Polyps do sometimes bleed, and there may be some noticeable rectal bleeding.  Most of the time the bleeding is invisible to the naked eye and can only be detected with laboratory testing.  If diagnosed and treated in its early stages, colorectal cancer is very curable.  When the tumour is entirely localised to the bowel, the ten year survival rate is 80 to 90 percent, but if the cancer has spread to the liver, less than 5 percent of victims live five years.

 How do I know if I need the test?

On average, 1 in 20 people will develop the disease over the course of their lifetime. 90% of cases occur in patients over age 50, and the majority of cases (75%) occur in people with no known risk factors. You are at greater risk if you have a family history of colorectal cancer or with other well established risk factors such as anaemia and change in bowel habits.  In addition, this scan is advisable for those over the age of 50 since there is a higher risk of colorectal cancer with increased age.  Now that this accurate, quick and safe test for early colon cancer is available, it easy to screen for colon cancer and detect disease in its earliest, most treatable stages.

How do I prepare for the test?

A preparation pack will be sent to you once your appointment has been confirmed. We would like to know beforehand whether you suffer from either asthma, kidney or liver impairment and/or diabetes because these patients require special preparation.

What will happen during the test?

You will be taken into the scanning room and asked to lie down on the scanning bed.  A small tube is inserted in the back passage and air is gently pumped in to fill the bowels.  Two scans are carried out; one lying on your back and another one lying on your front.  During the first scan the intra-venous contrast is injected under controlled supervision.  For both scans you will be asked to hold your breath for about 20 seconds.

What will the test result tell me?

Utilizing advanced 3-D image rendering techniques, a virtual voyage through the colon is generated from the scan images. You will be presented with a report which will tell you the presence of colon abnormalities such as polyps or colon cancer.  The report will also include any abnormalities in the abdominal/pelvic organs.

What happens next?

Depending on your scan result you may be referred to a specialist physician who will advise you on the course of your treatment.  A repeat scan every 2-5 years is recommended, depending on your individual case.