Virtual colonoscopy effective but not perfect

September 17, 2008 2:05:17 PM PDT
It's touted as a cheaper, less intrusive option to traditional colonoscopy, but does the so-called virtual colonoscopy measure up? A long awaited federal study on the procedure is now in. The research in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms the X-Ray alternative to the dreaded colonoscopy is effective at spotting cancers, but the report underscores this procedure is far from perfect.

The screen identified nine out of 10 people who had cancers and large growths seen by regular colonoscopies. But some radiologists misread the X-Ray, thinking they saw polyps that weren't there.

Those false alarms can lead to unnecessary follow-up testing.

Still, Medicare is already considering paying for this less intrusive option, and that could persuade more people to get screened.