Virtual colonoscopies closer to mainstream adoption?

Despite some major concerns, virtual colonoscopies could become the norm if a federal advisory panel, scheduled to meet later this month, decides health plans should be responsible for paying for the procedure. While virtual colonoscopies have proven just as successful, if not more so than the regular test, at identifying potentially-fatal polyps, the effect of radiation remains a big issue. Also at issue: Whether any of the extra pictures taken of the kidney, liver or pancreas could lead to unnecessary testing.

A third concern, this article points out, is the accuracy of the test compared with the size of polyps found; the smaller the polyp found, the less accurate the test has proven to be. Dr. David Forcione, of Massachusetts General Hospital, thinks that "the question you can argue over and over again is, are these small polyps significant? Do they need to be taken out?"

Dr. Michael Zalis, also of Massachusetts General, thinks that the latter concern isn't as big a deal, citing that radiologists usually can spot something they would deem worrisome on organs. "If nothing shows up, you're not going to go any further--it can end right there," he said.

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